The lawsuits continue to pile up. This one is another environmental suite filed against ExxonMobil after 20 million gallons of contaminated water used to fight a fire at the Baytown plant spilled into the Houston Ship Channel.
The lawsuit claims during the fire that started July 31 and burned for nearly a day, three unauthorized discharges of the wastewater occurred from a retention pond, which is meant to trap the water and pump it to a treatment plant at the refinery.
“Pumps used to pump firefighting wastewater from the retention pond at the plant to the wastewater treatment plant in the refinery became overwhelmed and were unable to keep up with the amount of firefighter wastewater entering the retention pond,” the lawsuit said.
State officials said in the lawsuit the first discharge of 10.4 million gallons happened between July 31 and Aug. 1. The second, of 7.4 million gallons, happened Aug. 1 and the third, of 2.1 million gallons, happened Aug. 2, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit claims the second and third spills happened when rain overwhelmed the pumps.
The lawsuit also claims ExxonMobil “emitted multiple air contaminants” during the fire without authorization from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
ExxonMobil officials said that they are still evaluating the lawsuit and released the following statement:
“ExxonMobil remains focused on the safety of our people and those in the surrounding community and continues to fully cooperate with authorities regarding this incident.”
The suit seeks penalties in excess of $100,000.
Harris County has filed a similar lawsuit against ExxonMobil.
In addition, over 30 people were injured in the fire. Some of those injured parties have also filed lawsuits.