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Company To Spend Close To $100,000 On Medical Equipment For Local Health Center

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a settlement with Mobil Exploration & Producing U.S. Inc. worth nearly $1 million for alleged Clean Air Act violations at Mobil’s oil production facility on the Navajo Nation in the Four Corners area near Aneth, Utah.

The company will pay a $350,000 penalty and spend about $500,000 on operation improvements to control air pollution at its oil field.

Mobil will also spend $99,849 on a public health project that will provide X-ray equipment, an X-ray processor and a pulmonary function testing machine to the Montezuma Creek Community Health Center in Montezuma Creek, Utah.

“We are doing our part to ensure that the citizens in and around the Four Corners region enjoy cleaner air,” said Thomas L. Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The Justice Department will continue to aggressively pursue these actions to reduce air pollution and protect the public health of our communities and citizens.”

“Companies that operate and manage our nation's oil fields have an obligation to the community to be in compliance with environmental laws,” said Wayne Nastri, the EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest region. “Today’s action not only ensures that Mobil will better control air pollution from its oil field, but also provides much needed diagnostic equipment to the local health center for residents who live near Mobil’s operations.”

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for Utah, alleges that Mobil operated unpermitted equipment, exceeded air pollution emission limits for sulfur dioxide and volatile organic compounds, failed to monitor its main flare and equipment leaks, and failed to notify the EPA that the company was demolishing its gas plant that may have contained asbestos.

Sulfur dioxide emissions can cause injury to both human health and the environment. High concentrations of sulfur dioxide can cause serious health problems, including respiratory illness. Sulfur dioxide pollution causes acid rain, which damages waterways and vegetation, and also causes decreased visibility, which has been a problem at many national parks.

Volatile organic compounds are a key component of smog that aggravate respiratory illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. As part of the settlement, Mobil has agreed to immediately comply with interim air pollution limits, obtain air pollution permits, investigate and correct all significant flaring events from its main flare, and better control air pollution from its main flare.

The EPA has resolved three other enforcement actions in the Aneth area within the last three years. Through separate agreements, the EPA settled Clean Water Act cases against Mobil in 2004 and Texaco Exploration and Production, Inc. in 2002, as well as a Clean Air Act case against Texaco Exploration and Production, Inc. and its contractor Envirotech Inc. in 2002.