| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Feb 5 A U.S. judge on Wednesday
ordered Citgo Petroleum Corp to pay more than $2 million for
violations of U.S. environmental laws over toxic emissions at
the company's refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas, from 1994 to
A jury convicted Citgo of illegally operating two tanks at
its Corpus Christi refinery in 2007 following a three-week
The refinery's tanks emitted benzene and other chemicals,
polluting the air and causing health and respiratory problems
for nearby residents, in violation of the U.S. Clean Air Act,
said the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Justice Department also accused the company of violating
the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
"Facilities that operate in our backyards, especially in
overburdened communities, have a responsibility to follow the
nation's environmental laws," Cynthia Giles, an Assistant
Administrator at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said
in a statement.
"Today's sentencing supports our commitment to reduce
pollutants from the air we breathe, and to fight for those most
vulnerable to pollutants," she said.
In a statement, Citgo said that it corrected the problem at
the tanks a decade ago.
"Even though we believe (the judge) was fair in this
sentencing process, Citgo intends to appeal because the
prosecution unfairly characterized the two water equalization
tanks as oil-water separators," Citgo said.
U.S. District Judge John Rainey of Corpus Christi, who
imposed the fine, delayed a decision on payment of restitution
to individual residents to a later date, court documents show.
The case is USA v. Citgo Petroleum Corp, U.S. District Court
for the Southern District of Texas, No. 06cr00563.
(Reporting By Carlyn Kolker; Editing by Michael Perry)