EPA Notes Safety, Maintenance Issues at Exxon Refinery

Dec 20, 2012

EPA inspectors made a surprise visit in July to ExxonMobil's Baton Rouge refinery.

ExxonMobil's Baton Rouge refinery.
Credit Frank McMains

In a newly released report, the inspectors marked down failures to report accidents, adequately detail emergency procedures, and properly maintain equipment and underground piping at the facility on Scenic Highway.

The refinery is the second largest in the U.S., processing over half a million barrels of crude oil each day and employing more than 2,200 people.

The EPA inspection came in the wake of a naphtha leak at the refinery in June. That accident resulted in the release of nearly 30,000 pounds of benzene and more than 25,000 pounds of other toxic chemicals. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality cited Exxon for not reporting sooner the extent of the spill, which was initially thought to be a very small incident. Exxon maintains it promptly notified authorities of the naphtha spill.

The Louisiana Bucket Brigade, which obtained the EPA’s inspection report through a public records request, expects it will be followed by enforcement and fines.

Exxon spokesperson Jennifer Hughes said Thursday the company will be discussing the areas of concern with the EPA in January and will dispute any allegations it deems to be without merit.