It is official: A federal judge in Lafayette, LA, OK’d a $10 million fine and $2 million in community service payments for Texas-based Pelican Refining Company LLC for felony violations of the Clean Air Act and obstruction of justice.
The Justice Department said Pelican admitted to several violations at its Lake Charles refinery, including the use of required equipment that did not work or did not undergo proper maintenance. Also, a pilot light in a flare tower where gases burn off didn’t work — so employees used an emergency flare gun to re-ignite the gases.
Pelican pleaded guilty and agreed to the payments in October.
“This conviction sends a message to all those who threaten Louisiana’s precious environment that if they ignore their duty to adhere to the environmental laws, they will be investigated, prosecuted, fined and sentenced accordingly,” said U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley.
The Justice Department said Byron Hamilton, the Pelican vice president who oversaw operations at the Lake Charles refinery since 2005 from an office in Houston pleaded guilty on July 6 to negligently placing persons in imminent danger of death and serious bodily injury as a result of releases at the refinery.
On Oct. 31, Pelican’s former asphalt facilities manager, Mike LeBleu, pleaded guilty to a negligent endangerment charge under the Clean Air Act. Each man will get a sentence to up to a year in prison.