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Texas Refinery Gets $1M Fine

August 27, 1998

HOUSTON (AP) _ A Houston-area refinery must pay more than $1 million in fines _ a state record for air pollution _ in an agreement approved Wednesday by the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission.

The state environmental agency earlier this summer announced a $677,425 fine against Crown Central Petroleum Corp. After hearing stinging public sentiment during a comment period, TNRCC upped the fine to $1,055,425.

The plant, located Pasadena, Texas, was cited for continued violations occurring from 1993-98, including excessive hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide, failure to report problems and failure to maintain daily records of visible emissions.

Under a provision in the U.S. Clean Air Act, the agreement snuffed out a federal civil lawsuit filed by environmentalists and local residents seeking to temporarily shut down the plant. U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore dismissed the suit last month.

The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club and other plaintiffs have filed a motion asking Gilmore to reconsider.

The Crown refinery processes about 1,000 barrels of crude oil daily into gasoline and other fuels. It runs at near-full capacity despite the depressed refining market and a 2 1/2-year-old lockout of about 300 workers that shows no sign of easing.

The TNRCC’s previous record air pollution fine was a $576,000 penalty against Phillips Petroleum Co. in 1991, agency spokesman Patrick Crimmins said.

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