ExxonMobil to pay civil penalty and take remedial measures to resolve Clean Air Act violations stemming from deadly fire at Texas refinery

Beaumont STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER / Guiseppe Barranco/The Enterprise
The Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement with ExxonMobil Oil Corporation (ExxonMobil) today to resolve federal Clean Air Act claims arising from a 2013 fire at the company’s oil refinery in Beaumont, Texas that killed two employees and injured ten others.  In a complaint filed today with the settlement, the United States alleges that the company violated Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act, which requires measures to prevent accidental releases of extremely hazardous substances that can have serious public health and environmental consequences.  The April 17, 2013, fire at the refinery occurred when workers used a torch to remove bolts from the top, or “head,” of a device called a heat exchanger.  The torch ignited hydrocarbons released from the head.  EPA’s inspection following the incident disclosed violations of Section 112(r) and of the regulations known as the Chemical Accident Prevention provisions.  “The deaths...
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Focus on Hazmat The politics and properties of hazmat

In the late 1970’s and early ‘80’s, following a spate of unusually severe incidents involving chemicals in transportation, “hazardous materials” (soon shortened to “HazMat”) became the hot button topic de jure. The result was the promulgation of numerous governmental regulations such as the Hazardous Waste Operations and Response Act or “Hazwoper” (CFR 1910-120), The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TASCA), among others. Each of these was promulgated by a different agency for different reasons and with the intent of achieving different objectives. As a result each agency defines “Hazardous Materials” differently. For example, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) defines a hazardous material as being any substance or chemical which is a “health hazard” or “physical hazard,” including: chemicals which are carcinogens, toxic agents, irritants, corrosives, sensitizers; agents which act on the hematopoietic system; agents which damage the lungs, skin, eyes, or mucous...
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