Westlake Chemical settled allegations of violating federal and state pollution control laws

Published: Jun. 10, 2022 at 9:16 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Westlake Chemical Corporation is paying a fine and has agreed to spend more than $100 million to fix problems in its plants emission regulations.

A U.S. official said Westlake Chemical’s failure to comply with emissions regulations caused harm to the environment that could have been avoided.

The official complaint against Westlake chemical corporation revolves around flaring at two local plants and a plant in Kentucky. Westlake failed to properly operate, maintain, monitor, and control flares at the petrochemical facilities.

“The failure of the companies in Lake Charles to comply with the excessive emissions regulations regarding flaring has caused harm to our environment that could have been avoided,” U.S. Attorney Brandon Brown said. “The requirements of this settlement to install and operate the technology to reduce this flaring will be a significant step toward protecting our environment and making Lake Charles a safe place to live and work. Westlake Chemical Corporation is to be commended for their willingness to join us in reaching this settlement to eliminate tons of air pollution.”

In the settlement, Westlake Chemical agreed to a plan to upgrade and perform compliance measures estimated to cost $110 million to resolve the complaint. This includes pollution control and emission monitoring equipment.

Westlake Chemical will also pay a $1 million civil penalty.

Westlake Chemical Corporation released the following statement:

Westlake Corporation is committed to operating in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. The company works to ensure compliance with state and federal regulatory authorities in minimizing emissions, especially regarding industrial flaring.

Westlake is pleased to have reached an agreement with the United States Environmental Protection Agency and is making investments to reduce environmental emissions in concert with the company’s sustainability strategy.

Westlake’s commitment to safety is fundamental to the company’s values, and that commitment is to both our employees and to the communities in which we operate.

The U.S. Justice Department said this solution works toward eliminating thousands of tons of air pollution caused by waste released in flares.

Former refinery operator and lab analyst, James Hiatt, said he’s disappointed it took this enforcement action by the Department of Justice to get the company to comply with the law.

“I think we all have seen these flares just go off and Westlake especially the ones on City Service will just roar for days, black smoke rolling,” Hiatt said. “I’m very happy the DOJ and EPA are now instituting this fine and this compliance -- so they will be in compliance with the clean air act and that we’ll be able to know what’s actually in the air, they’ll have fence-line monitoring.”

Hiatt is also the Southwest coordinator for the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. The organization’s mission is to put an end to “destruction” caused by the petrochemical industry.

“We want clean air, we want to know what’s in the air,” Hiatt said. “We want to know what’s in the water and we want it to be clean because there’s no other air we can breath, this is it. So, we need that for our community and for, you know, the sustainability of the entire Southwest Louisiana.”

The case consent decree was filed June 9.

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