"BP Hit With Record $15 Million Fine"

"BP has agreed to pay a record $15 million fine to the federal government for air pollution violations at its troubled Texas City refinery.

Federal prosecutors said Thursday the penalty stems from two fires and a leak that sent thousands of pounds of toxic pollutants, including the carcinogen benzene, into the air in 2004 and 2005.

The fine, the largest for Clean Air Act violations at a single facility, is unconnected to the March 2005 explosion that killed 15 workers and injured more than 170 at the refinery. Federal regulators identified the violations in a series of inspections after the deadly explosion.

Ignacia Moreno, assistant attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department, said the Clean Air Act is intended not only to prevent accidents like the fatal explosion, 'but also to penalize companies with poor practices that cause harmful air pollution.'"

Matthew Tresaugue reports for the Houston Chronicle September 30, 2010.

Source: Houston Chronicle, 10/01/2010