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Shell will pay millions to settle air pollution suit

By MATTHEW TRESAUGUE Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle

April 23, 2009, 1:48PM

Shell Oil Co. has agreed to pay millions of dollars to resolve a lawsuit by two environmental groups over pollution at its Deer Park refinery.

Under the proposed settlement filed today, the Houston-based U.S. arm of oil giant Royal Dutch Shell will spend the money for equipment to reduce harmful emissions known as “upset events,” which occur during equipment malfunctions, unscheduled maintenance and other unforeseen events.

The exact cost of those improvements was not immediately available.

The company also agreed to pay $5.8 million for past federal Clean Air Act violations, which attorneys for the Sierra Club and Environment Texas said is the largest penalty from a citizen suit over air pollution in the state’s history.

The lawsuit, filed in January 2008 in Houston federal court, alleged that Shell’s Deer Park refinery recorded more than 1,000 upset events in a five-year period, emitting millions of pounds of pollutants more than allowed by the facility’s permits.

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