Pelican Refining Hit With Record Air Pollution Fine

A federal court in Lafayette, Louisiana has sentenced Houston-based Pelican Refining Company to pay $12 million in penalties for violations of the Clean Air Act and obstruction of justice.


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The sentence is the largest criminal fine ever imposed for air pollution in Louisiana’s history.

In a statement filed in court, Pelican admitted to committing criminal violations of the Clean Air Act at its refinery in Lake Charles. The violations were discovered during a March 2006 inspection by the EPA and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. Pelican also pled guilty to obstruction of justice for submitting false reports to the Louisiana DEQ.

Byron Hamilton, the Houston-based vice president who oversaw the Lake Charles refinery’s operations, pled guilty in July to two counts of placing persons in imminent danger of death or serious injury as the result of hazardous pollutants leaking into the air. Hamilton faces up to a year in prison and a $200,000 fine on each of the counts.

Pelican Refining is mainly involved in manufacturing asphalt. It operates as a subsidiary owned by two other Houston companies, NuCoastal Refining and Marketing and BayOil (USA) Limited.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media's business reporter, covering the oil...

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