Corpus Christi Refinery - Citgo
Citgo corporation operates a refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas, that has the capability of producing up to 156,000 barrels of crude oil on a daily basis.
One of the major components of this plant comes in the form of two large oil tanks of the property, both of which can hold up to 12 million gallons of gasoline. While tanks such as this are common within refineries, they are generally sealed at the top with powerful lids that stop hazardous emissions from escaping into the atmosphere. The tanks at this plant, however, sat uncovered for many years. This allowed far more pollution to escape than is allowed by law, and officials from the plant have been accused of inaccurately reporting the amount of pollution in an attempt to cover up the excess.
State regulation groups such as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality have been sending the plant warnings and requesting that they put covers on the tanks from as far back as 1999. It was not until 2006 when the Justice Department brought charges forth against Citgo that they finally agreed to put a cover on the tanks. Local residents have voiced loud complaints that the local groups did not push hard enough to force Citgo to take action years earlier.
In February of 2008, there was an accident at the refinery in which four contract workers were injured in an oil spill. All four of the men were suffering from burns, and one victim was listed as being in critical condition. Citgo released a statement which said that the incident was not one that will affect the general public, and plant operations would continue as usual.
More workers were hurt in April of 2008, due to an oil leak. Five people were injured, and the leak spread out into the community and covered cars, local residencies and a nearby school. The incident was investigated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), and their findings indicated that the plant allowed a large quantity of hazardous materials to be released from the facility, far exceeding the legal amount they are allowed. They further claimed that the leak could have been avoided if Citgo had taken proper preventative measures. An improperly designed pipe was the culprit for the leakage, and it should have been discovered and replaced during routine checks. TCEQ will be leveling a fine against Citgo regarding this incident.
The Corpus Christi Eastern facility has had many complaints brought against it, including an earlier problem in which the facility was found to utilize products that were made out of asbestos. This was a commonly used material at one point, but it was eventually proven to be hazardous and a causer of respiratory disorders and Mesothelioma, a potentially life threatening type of cancer. Individuals who worked at this plant, or residents who lived nearby, should talk to their healthcare practitioner about their possible exposure to asbestos and other harmful chemicals from the refinery.
Last modified: December 09, 2009.