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July 25, 2013

MADIGAN, GLASGOW TAKE ACTION IN LATEST EXXONMOBIL REFINERY INCIDENT

Company Reports Hydrogen Sulfide Release Lasted More Than Nine Hours

Chicago — Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow today filed a complaint against ExxonMobil Oil Corp., alleging air pollution violations after an equipment malfunction at the company’s refinery in Channahon Township caused an uncontrolled release of hydrogen sulfide that lasted more than 9½ hours in March.

According to the complaint, the release began shortly after 9 p.m. March 1 and went undiscovered by refinery employees until approximately 6:45 a.m. the next morning. ExxonMobil notified the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Will County emergency officials and other state and federal agencies that a pressure relief valve failed at the refinery’s coker debutanizer, resulting in approximately 4,066 pounds of hydrogen sulfide and other contaminants escaping into the air. Hydrogen sulfide is a flammable, colorless gas known for its distinctive “rotten egg” odor. It enters the body primarily through breathing, and high concentrations can cause the loss of consciousness, shock, convulsions and death.

“We need to know why this incident occurred and ensure that measures are taken to avoid future releases of highly toxic chemicals that are hazardous to the employees on site as well as the whole community,” Madigan said.

“We’re working with Illinois Attorney General Madigan to hold companies accountable for the release of dangerous pollutants that impact the health and safety of our citizens,” State’s Attorney Glasgow said. “Such violations of our state’s environmental regulations will be prosecuted aggressively in court.”

The complaint asks the court to order ExxonMobil to cease and desist from further violations of the environmental protections, take immediate corrective and preventive actions and to assess a civil penalty of $50,000 with an additional penalty of $10,000 per day of the alleged violation.

Supervising Attorney Rebecca Burlingham and Assistant Attorney General Robert Petti are handling the case for Madigan’s Environmental Enforcement Bureau.

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