WASHINGTON — Officials from the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas will hold a community meeting in Corpus Christi, Texas as part of the Department's obligations under the Crime Victim Rights Act to identify, locate and notify persons who may have been victims of crime.
In June 2007, a jury convicted CITGO Petroleum Corporation and CITGO Refining and Chemicals Company L.P. for illegally operating two massive tanks at their Corpus Christi, Texas East Plant Refinery between January 1994 and March 2002. The tanks were the source of emissions including benzene, a known carcinogen, that may have affected persons in the surrounding communities of Hillcrest and Oak Park.
WHO: Officials from the Justice Department’s EnvironmentalCrimes Section & U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas WHAT: Community Meeting
WHEN: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2007 9:00 A.M. TO 3:00 P.M. CDT
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2007 3:00 P.M. TO 9:00 P.M. CDT
WHERE: OVEAL WILLIAMS SENIOR LIVING CENTER 1414 Martin Luther King Corpus Christi, Texas
BACKGROUND: CITGO Petroleum Corporation and CITGO Refining and Chemicals Company L.P. were convicted on June 27, 2007 of two felony counts each for operating tanks 116 and 117 at the CITGO East Plant Refinery in Corpus Christi as oil water separators without required emission control equipment in violation of the federal Clean Air Act.
Witnesses at the trial testified that emissions from the tanks could be detected in Oak Park and Hillcrest in the form of odors. Emissions from tanks 116 and 117 would present a sweet or petroleum-based smell.
Public records of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) show that CITGO operated an Acid Gas Flare and a Sour Water Gas Flare in violation of a TCEQ permit. The permit only authorized emergency use of the flares. The refinery used the flares as live process flares. As a result, according to CITGO’s statement, the flares emitted hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and sulfur dioxide (SO2). The hydrogen sulfide emissions would present a rotten egg type smell. The flares were operated in violation of the permit between at least January 1998 and January 2003.
The purpose of the community meeting is to identify persons who may have been victims of CITGO’s criminal conduct. The Department of Justice intends to advise the U.S. District Court at the sentencing hearing of victims identified through its efforts. The Department of Justice will not be seeking financial payments for any individual victims.
NOTE: Persons who have been affected by odors believed emanating or coming from CITGO may be victims. Persons who believe they are victims of the criminal conduct of CITGO Petroleum Corporation and CITGO Refining and Chemicals Company L.P., will be asked to complete a Victim Impact Statement which will be presented to the U.S. Probation Office and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas for consideration at the sentencing. Prospective victims should bring any information that supports their claim.
Sentencing is presently scheduled for Oct. 18, 2007 at 10:00 A.M. CDT before the Honorable John D. Rainey, U.S. District Judge. The sentencing hearing will be held at the U.S. Courthouse, Shoreline Drive, Corpus Christi, Texas.
For additional information call Special Agent De’Montra Rainey at 361-888-3283. Press inquiries regarding logistics should be directed to the Office of Public Affairs at 202-514-2007.