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TEXAS CHEMICAL PLANT MANAGERS CONVICTED OF AIR VIOLATIONS

Release Date: 12/16/99
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FOR RELEASE: THURSDAY, DEC. 16, 1999
TEXAS CHEMICAL PLANT MANAGERS CONVICTED OF AIR VIOLATIONS

Jeffrey L. Jackson, former plant manager for the Huntsman Chemical Plant in Port Arthur, Texas, and Michael Peters, Huntsman’s former environmental manager and a former regional manager for the Texas Air Control Board, were convicted on Dec. 9 in U.S. District Court in Beaumont, Texas of conspiracy, making a false statement to EPA and violating the Clean Air Act. Evidence presented at trial demonstrated that the defendants illegally allowed benzene to be emitted from a cooling tower and also from a tank that held benzene-contaminated wastewater at the Huntsman facility. The emissions from the wastewater tank occurred after it had been struck by lightning on Nov. 2, 1995. The lightning caused a fire that damaged 20 percent of the tank seals. The defendants failed to empty the tank or repair it within 45 days as required by law. They also did not keep the tank filled to the top, which is required to prevent benzene vapor pockets from forming in the tank. The result of their actions was the airborne emission of benzene, which is a cancer-causing chemical. When sentenced, both defendants face up to 25 years in prison and/or fines up to $1.25 million. The case was investigated by EPA, the FBI, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission and the Texas Environmental Crimes Task Force. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas in Beaumont.

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