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The U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday that Citgo Petroleum Corp. has agreed to pay $19.69 million to resolve federal and state claims for natural resource damages in connection with a 2006 oil discharge.
The statement said a complaint filed by the U.S. and Louisiana concurrently sought damages under the Oil Pollution Act and the Louisiana Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act for injuries to natural resources resulting from Citgo’s major oil discharge into the Calcasieu River in June 2006 from its wastewater treatment facility at its Lake Charles Refinery.
The complaint alleged Houston-based Citgo discharged millions of gallons of waste oil and oil wastewater from two 10-million-gallon surge and wastewater tanks at its treatment facility.
It said about 150 miles of shorelines was polluted with Citgo’s oil, including residential and marsh areas. It said the discharged oil killed birds, fish and other aquatic life, contaminated aquatic and shoreline habitats, forced closure of the ship channel and disrupted recreational uses of the affected river and lakes.
Citgo said in a statement it “is pleased to reach this voluntary settlement with various federal and state agencies, providing $19.16 million to fund environmental restoration planning and projects, as a result of a spill caused by the 2006 heavy rain event at our Lake Charles, La. refinery. Protecting our natural resources is a core value for the Company.
“We promptly responded to the spill, invested significant resources to implement early restoration, and assisted the Trustees with evaluating the impacts. Additionally, we made significant improvements in our plant, policies and procedures to prevent this type of event from happening again. We understand it is a privilege to operate in our communities, and we will continue working to ensure our operations are safe for our people and our environment.”
On Nov. 1, Citgo Petroleum Corp. has stopped contributions to 401(k) retirement plans and is planning to cut 10% salaries on Jan. 1 to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters reported. In a message sent to its employees, the Houston-based firm said that its actions were required due to the loss of demand resulting from the health crisis.