FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
THURSDAY, JANUARY 13, 2005
TDD (202) 514-1888
SETTLEMENT BETWEEN U.S., TEXAS, AND CHEVRON
PROVIDES RESTORATION PROJECTS NEAR PORT ARTHUR, TEXAS
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Attorney General’s Office, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) today announced a settlement agreement with Chevron U.S.A. Inc., Chevron Environmental Management Co., and Chevron Phillips Chemical Co., LP (Chevron) that provides for restoration projects as compensation for natural resource damages resulting from the release of hazardous substances and the discharge of oil from the Port Arthur Refinery in Jefferson County, Texas.
Under the agreement being lodged today with the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Chevron U.S.A. Inc. will be primarily responsible for undertaking a variety of restoration actions to compensate for natural resource losses resulting from contamination at the refinery. Chevron will construct and plant at least 85 acres of estuarine marsh and approximately 30 acres of wet prairie and will construct water control structures to enhance nearly 1600 acres of coastal wet prairie near Port Arthur. Chevron also will pay costs incurred by the governmental agencies in evaluating the natural resource damages resulting from the contamination at the refinery and in determining appropriate restoration actions.
“Today's settlement is crucial because it provides much-needed relief for the habitat harmed by years of contamination,” said Thomas L. Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. “It is also important because it ensures that this costal wetland will be preserved to the future benefit of the ecosystem of Port Arthur.”
Chevron U.S.A. Inc., or company it purchased, has owned and/or operated all or part of the refinery since 1902. Chevron Phillips Chemical Co., LP has owned and/or operated portions of the refinery during the past few years. Operations at the refinery have included crude oil refining, lubricant oil and chemical manufacturing, and product distribution. As a result of these operations, the refinery and adjacent land and waterways were contaminated with oil, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and hazardous substances, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), lead, and chromium. Chevron Environmental Management Co. has conducted cleanup operations and handled hazardous wastes at the refinery. TCEQ has monitored Chevron’s activities in cleaning up the refinery.
“This agreement demonstrates the benefits that come from community, business and government working together,” said TCEQ Executive Director Glenn Shankle “Not only is the site being cleaned up, the public will also benefit significantly from restoration projects to compensate for any past environmental harm.”
Under the consent decree, Chevron will implement restoration actions to offset the ecological injuries, which included injuries to birds and wildlife at the refinery and injuries to benthic resources in off-facility habitats, including lakes, marshes, dredged material cells, and grasslands.
“America's coastal wetlands are being lost at an alarming rate,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Regional Director H. Dale Hall. “This cooperative settlement between Chevron and the government is one key step in restoring wetlands that are vital to the preservation and enhancement of migratory waterfowl and endangered species.”
Chevron will act in cooperation and under the oversight of NOAA, DOI, TPWD, TCEQ, and GLO, in carrying out these projects under the settlement. Chevron will also reimburse past assessment costs and pay future restoration costs incurred by these natural resource trustee agencies. The restoration actions included in this settlement were identified through a natural resource damage assessment process for the site that was undertaken cooperatively with Chevron.
“This agreement with Chevron is another great example of cooperative and integrated restoration planning realizing timely ‘on the ground results’ in the State of Texas,” said David M. Kennedy, Director of NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration. “The project shows what government and industry can do to when we act together to achieve our common goal of restoring our nation's coastal natural resources.”
“This settlement is an important opportunity to take a former wetland area that has subsided and been converted into shallow water and return it to a diverse emergent wetland community, a type of vanishing habitat that is vital for waterfowl, fish and wildlife," said Larry McKinney, Ph.D., Texas Parks and Wildlife Department coastal fisheries director. "Since oil and gas drilling and other human development has affected our bays and wetlands along the Texas coast, it's appropriate to use this settlement to repair that damage. The proposal is to use dredge material to create marsh wetlands and convert the elevated dredge landscape back into a more productive and natural native wet prairie.”
The United States will receive public comment on the proposed settlement for a period of 30 days after notice is published in the Federal Register which should occur within a few days by writing to: the Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources Division, P.O. Box 7611, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 20044-7611. The settlement agreement will take effect upon signature and entry by the U. S. District Court judge, after any comments received have been considered.