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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Mobil to pay $2.4M for air pollution violations in NMI, Guam
Oil company admits no wrongdoing

Mobil Oil Mariana Islands Inc. and Mobil Oil Guam admit no wrongdoing but agreed to pay $2.4 million in civil penalty for allegedly violating federal environmental law by failing to control air emissions from their bulk gasoline terminals on Saipan and Guam.

On Saipan, Mobil’s bulk gasoline terminal is at Puerto Rico Port Drive in Lower Base.

The civil penalty is part of a 29-page consent decree filed yesterday in the U.S. District Court of Guam in which Mobil Oil Guam and Mobil Oil Marianas did not admit any liability or wrongdoing over allegations they violated the Clean Air Act.

“By entering into this consent decree and complying with its terms, defendants do not admit any inference of wrongdoing that could be used against defendants in any other proceeding with any party not a signatory to this consent decree,” the 29-page document states.

U.S. District Court of Guam Chief Judge Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood approved the consent decree yesterday.

Mobil agrees to pay the $2.4 million to the U.S. Department of Justice within 30 days after the effective date of the consent decree.

Under the consent decree, Mobil agreed not to operate its fuel storage tanks on Saipan or in Guam until they comply with the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants.

Mobil also agreed to begin continuous monitoring systems for both the Cabras Terminal and the Saipan Terminal loading racks and to begin preliminary installation of controls for both facilities.

The oil giant also agreed to provide the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by Dec. 31, 2010, both a written startup, shutdown and malfunction plan, as well as written equipment in gasoline service report for each of the facilities as required by NESHAP.

By signing the consent decree, Mobil also agreed to submit regular reports, including the status of any constructions, tank deactivations or demolitions, or compliance measures.

Mobil is required to notify EPA within 24 hours of any violation of the consent decree or any other event affecting Mobil’s performance under the consent decree that may pose an immediate threat to the public health, welfare or the environment.

The signatories included assistant attorney general Ignacia S. Moreno and Robert D. Mullaney of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division; Assistant U.S. Attorney Mikel W. Schwab; EPA Region 9 Administrator Jared Blumenfeld; and EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Cynthia Giles.

For the defendants, those who signed the consent decree included Mobil Oil Guam Inc. and Mobil Oil Mariana Islands Inc. president Gennaro Cioffi, Exxon Mobil Law Department’s Christopher W. Armstrong, and Larry W. Lindeen of Neal & Harwell, PLC, counsel for Mobil Oil Guam and Mobil Oil Mariana Islands.

These two companies allegedly discharged hundreds of tons of volatile organic compounds into the air each year from their bulk gasoline terminals on Cabras Island in Guam and in the Lower Base area of Saipan.

The complaint filed simultaneously with the settlement alleged that Mobil Oil Guam and Mobil Oil Mariana Islands failed to install vapor pollution controls on 13 storage tanks and all of their loading racks at gasoline storage facilities on the islands.

Both also allegedly failed to comply with pollution limits, install pollution monitors, and submit required reports.

In a statement in April, DOJ and EPA said Mobil Oil Guam and Mobil Oil Mariana Islands estimate they will spend more than $15 million to bring the two bulk gasoline terminals into compliance with the Clean Air Act, reducing their yearly discharge of volatile organic compounds by close to 400 tons.

Bulk gasoline terminals are large storage tank facilities where gasoline is loaded into tank trucks for distribution to gasoline service stations. Vapors containing volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants, including the known human carcinogen benzene, can leak from storage tanks, pipes, and tank trucks as they are loaded.

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