Pelican Refining Hit With Record Air Pollution Fine

Oiled pelicans around East Grand Terre before the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries rescued, cleaned and treated for any injuries.

Photos courtesy of Governor Jindal's office.

A federal court in Lafayette, Louisiana has sentenced Houston-based Pelican Refining Company to pay $12 million in penalties for violations of the Clean Air Act and obstruction of justice.

The sentence is the largest criminal fine ever imposed for air pollution in Louisiana’s history.

In a statement filed in court, Pelican admitted to committing criminal violations of the Clean Air Act at its refinery in Lake Charles. The violations were discovered during a March 2006 inspection by the EPA and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. Pelican also pled guilty to obstruction of justice for submitting false reports to the Louisiana DEQ.

Byron Hamilton, the Houston-based vice president who oversaw the Lake Charles refinery’s operations, pled guilty in July to two counts of placing persons in imminent danger of death or serious injury as the result of hazardous pollutants leaking into the air. Hamilton faces up to a year in prison and a $200,000 fine on each of the counts.

Pelican Refining is mainly involved in manufacturing asphalt. It operates as a subsidiary owned by two other Houston companies, NuCoastal Refining and Marketing and BayOil (USA) Limited.

Bio photo of Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Business Reporter

Andrew Schneider joined KUHF in January 2011, after more than a decade as a print reporter for The Kiplinger Letter...