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November 8, 2013

ATTORNEY GENERAL MADIGAN, STATE’S ATTORNEY GLASGOW: CITGO ORDERED TO INVESTIGATE REFINERY FIRE

Chicago — Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow today announced an interim agreement has been filed in court that orders Citgo Petroleum Corp. to conduct an analysis and review of the cause of the fire that damaged a crude oil unit at its Lemont refinery last month.

During maintenance on a pump at the crude oil unit the evening of October 23, a valve and bypass piping malfunctioned. Heavy crude material leaked from the unit and a fire ensued. The Will County Emergency Management Agency responded to the fire, which caused the release of particulate matter, smoke, pollutants and contaminants into the air. Residential areas are located within a mile of the refinery located at 135th St. and New Ave.

“This incident created a significant threat to public safety and the surrounding environment,” Madigan said. “We’re taking this legal action to ensure that Citgo takes all necessary steps to prevent dangerous equipment malfunctions.”

“We’re working with Attorney General Madigan’s office and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to hold industries accountable for operational malfunctions that jeopardize the safety of our residents and the surrounding environment,” said Glasgow. “We need to know what caused this fire and we need assurances that the refinery is operating properly and safely.”

In addition to performing an investigation to determine the cause of the fire and release of contaminants, Citgo must also provide recommended corrective actions and a work plan for approval by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA). Citgo also must submit the results and location of any air sampling it conducted during or following the fire detailing the amounts of contaminants released and a list of all citizens and local officials or agencies it contacted regarding the incident. Citgo cannot restart the vacuum section of the crude unit until it has demonstrated that it is safe to resume operation.

Madigan and Glasgow also filed a three-count complaint alleging the fire created a substantial danger to the environment, public health and welfare and that Citgo violated air pollution laws and failed to operate its facility in a manner that minimizes the release of hazardous substances. Each count seeks a civil penalty of $50,000 per violation and an additional $10,000 for each day of each violation.

Supervising Attorney Rebecca Burlingham and Assistant Attorney General Ellen O’Laughlin are handling the case for Madigan’s Environmental Bureau. Assistant State’s Attorney Phil Mock is handling the case for the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office.

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