HOUSTON (Reuters) – Harris County in Texas plans to sue Valero Vitality Corp for air pollution from its Houston refinery, the pinnacle of the county’s environmental regulation division stated on Friday.
FILE PHOTO: The Valero refinery subsequent to the Houston Ship Channel is seen in Houston, Texas, U.S., Could 5, 2019. REUTERS/Loren Elliott/File Picture
A Valero spokeswoman didn’t reply to a request for remark.
The swimsuit might be introduced below a provision of the U.S. Clear Air Act that permits residents to sue over air pollution, stated Rock Owens, managing lawyer of the environmental apply group within the Harris County Legal professional’s Workplace.
In recent times, environmental teams just like the Sierra Membership and Setting Texas have filed citizen lawsuits towards refineries and chemical vegetation, however it’s uncommon for governments to take action, Owens stated.
“It’s been extraordinarily uncommon in Texas,” he stated. “I can’t communicate to the remainder of the nation.”
The lawsuit, which might be filed in federal courtroom have to be preceded by a 60-day discover to Valero, the nation’s second largest refiner, the Texas Fee on Environmental High quality and the U.S. Environmental Safety Company. Owens expects that discover might be issued this summer season.
The Valero refinery is bordered on one facet by the Manchester neighborhood in east Houston alongside the Houston Ship Channel. Residents of the largely Hispanic neighborhood have repeatedly blamed air pollution from space refineries and chemical vegetation for well being issues.
“That is an space the place individuals have been crying for aid for years,” Owens stated.
In 2017, a federal decide ordered Exxon Mobil Corp to pay a $20-million high-quality for air pollution from the corporate’s large Baytown, Texas, refinery and chemical plant complicated as a part of a citizen lawsuit introduced by the Sierra Membership’s Lone Star Chapter and Setting Texas.
The identical organizations have notified Valero of plans to sue the corporate over air pollution from its refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, 90 miles (145 km) east of Houston.
Different lawsuits introduced by the Sierra Membership and Setting Texas have resulted in multimillion-dollar settlements with corporations like Royal Dutch Shell Plc
5 main refineries, accounting for 7.5% of nationwide refining capability, are positioned in Harris County, together with the 205,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Valero Houston refinery and the 560,500 bpd Exxon Baytown refinery.
Reporting by Erwin Seba; Modifying by Tom Brown