Town Hall meeting held by Murphy Oil part of federal settlement

Alejandro de los Rios Mar. 21, 2011, 3:33pm

Murphy Oil will conduct a meeting in St. Bernard Parish as part of a settlement agreement with the federal government that also includes nearly $150 million in penalties.

In February 2010, U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance ruled that Murphy Oil committed 21 violations of the Federal Clean Air Act.

A consent decree the oil company signed a year later requires it to spend $142 million on pollution-reducing equipment, $1.25 million in civil penalties and $1.5 million in environmental projects.

The town hall meeting will take place Tuesday in Chalmette and will go into detail with residents about what kind of new equipment will be purchased and where the money for environmental projects will go.

The oil company will also be required to hold similar meetings every month to speak with concerned citizens living near the refinery in Meraux.

The violations were found at Murphy Oil's refineries in Meraux, La. and in Superior, Wisc. Murphy Oil was ordered to pay $395,312 to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, $229,687 to Wisconsin and $625,000 to the U.S.

The Concerned Citizens group in St. Bernard filed suit against Murphy Oil in 2008 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The Tulane Environmental Law Clinic filed the suit on behalf of the group.

That lawsuit alleged that gases and fumes from the Meraux refinery caused health problems among residents living in the area. The suit has been dismissed following the consent decree.

In September 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency and Wisconsin filed a similar lawsuit claiming Murphy Oil violated the Clean Air Act at its refinery in Superior.

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