The third largest legal action recovery in the history of Texas means a chemical company must pay the state $7.5 million for violations of environmental quality laws.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced Wednesday that an enforcement against Gulf Chemical & Metallurgical Corporation (GCMC) has been settled.
“Under an agreed judgment negotiated by the State, GCMC must pay Texas $7.5 million for its Freeport industrial manufacturing facility’s failure to comply with state environmental quality laws,” a release by Abbott’s office indicated.
“Enforcing our State’s environmental quality laws is critical to protecting Texas’s precious natural resources,” Abbott said. “Gulf Chemical’s Freeport facility failed to comply with the law and therefore faced an aggressive enforcement action from the State of Texas. As a result, that facility now faces one of the largest Texas Clean Air Act penalties in state history.”
In 2011, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality investigators found “that GCMC’s facility unlawfully emitted air pollutants such as ammonia, nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxide and various airborne metals.”
Investigators also found they were “unlawfully discharged wastewater that contained toxic and hazardous metals, including arsenic, cobalt and nickel. Soil samples tested near the defendant’s facility revealed dangerous levels of toxic metals, including antimony, chromium and lead.”
Besides the $7.5 million in civil penalties, GCMC is required to institute “institute real-time metals monitoring equipment. The monitoring system is new, cutting-edge technology that has never before been implemented at any other industrial facility in the State of Texas – and has only been utilized in a handful of plants nationally or internationally.”
The largest settlements in Texas history related to a single source emitter include:
• BP Products North America Inc. – $50 million in civil penalties for unlawful pollutant emissions at its Texas City refinery.
• Huntsman Petrochemical Company – $9 million in civil penalties for unpermitted and unreported pollutant emissions at its Port Arthur facility.