WASHINGTON – Persons living around the CITGO refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas, who suffered immediate negative health effects from emissions from two large tanks at the facility that were operated between January 1994 and May 2003 in violation of the federal Clean Air Act, may be crime victims in United States v. CITGO Petroleum Corporation et al.
U.S. District Judge John D. Rainey has ordered the government to make this announcement so that any member of the community at large who believes they may be a crime victim and wishes to participate in the proceeding is made aware of their potential rights. To be able to participate, members of the community must submit by Nov. 4, 2012, (40 days from the order) a victim impact statement consistent with the Sept. 14, 2012, order, which is attached to this release. Under the Crime Victim’s Rights Act, persons who are directly and proximately harmed by the commission of a crime are crime victims and have certain, enumerated rights under the law. In this instance, community members may be considered crime victims based on the immediate negative health effects they suffered from breathing noxious fumes from Tanks 116 and 117 during the 1994 – 2003 time frame.
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 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. Witnesses at the trial testified that emissions from the tanks could be detected in Oak Park and Hillcrest in the form of strong gaseous type odors.
On Sept. 25 and 26, 2007, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency held community meetings at the Oveale Williams Senior Center in Corpus Christi during which more than 300 persons submitted victim impact statements. The current order is to identify any additional persons who may qualify as crime victims.
For more information, including how to submit a victim impact statement, members of the community who have not filed a victim impact statement may call U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Special Agent De’Montra Rainey at (713) 209-4892.