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CITGO Must Pay $20 Million For 2006 Oil Spill

The oil spill covered about 150 miles of shoreline, killing birds and destroying habitats.
The oil spill covered about 150 miles of shoreline, killing birds and destroying habitats.

CITGO Petroleum Corporation has agreed to pay nearly $20 million in damages for a 2006 oil spill. The fine will resolve state and federal claims against the Houston-based company for releasing more than 150,000 barrels of oil from its wastewater treatment facility into the Calcasieu River.

A federal investigation found that the oil -- which covered roughly 150 miles of shoreline -- killed birds, fish and other aquatic life, contaminated shoreline habitats, forced the closure of the ship channel, and disrupted recreational uses of the river and nearby lakes.

The United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana’s ruling called the oil spill “massive, excessive, and a tragedy.”

A trial found that the cause of the disaster was avoidable, attributing it to CITGO’s gross negligence in the operation and maintenance of its wastewater treatment facility and the lack of adequate storage and treatment capacity.

“While oil and gas producers are a major source of employment in Louisiana, they have a sacred obligation to protect our environment and use our resources wisely,” said U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook for the Western District of Louisiana in a statement.

The natural resource damages will be shared by state and federal partners for restoration projects. Those partners include the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service, the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator’s Office, Department of Public Safety & Corrections, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and local listeners.

Tegan Wendland

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