Fire at ExxonMobil facility in US

Greenpeace reveals safety violation at Staten Island facility

Feature story - 21 February, 2003
A fire recently broke out at a gas storage facility owned and managed by the largest oil company in the world, ExxonMobil. A thorough search of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data, in conjunction with the Working Group on Community Right-to-Know, has failed to turn up a Risk Management Plan (RMP) for the Staten Island ExxonMobil fuel storage facility.

Fire at ExxonMobil's Staten Island storage facility.

Under the Clean Air Act of 1999, facilities that use hazardous substances are supposed to file RMPs with the US EPA.

It is inconceivable that a facility in such a populous location would not be required to file such a plan. The lack of an RMP in this case raises several questions:

-- If this facility did not file an RMP and it is supposed to, what enforcement actions will the EPA take against the company? What will the EPA do to make sure compliance is followed in the future? How many other potentially hazardous facilities have failed to file RMPs?

-- If this facility is not required to file an RMP, why not? What is the threshold for facilities to file?

In addition, we have uncovered further information in regard to environmental and safety violations at this facility:

-- Benzene concentrations 20 times higher than permissible levels contaminated discharged wastes found in two open-air ponds at Port Mobil, which resulted in ExxonMobil paying a US$11.2 million fine in 2001. This is one of the largest fines levied against a company in a hazardous waste case.

-- As recently as last September, the Department of Environmental Conservation brought a complaint against this facility for a host of safety and environmental violations, including conducting the transfer of hazardous substances improperly; failing to maintain equipment; and failing to equip piping with leak detection equipment.

Our world's addiction to oil continues to cause human and ecological tragedies such as this which can be, and MUST be, avoided.

Oil is unsustainable because it produces carbon dioxide, the primary cause of global warming. The only long-term solution to local and global pollution caused by extraction, transportation, production and use of oil is to phase it out. Instead the international community must work to replace oil as an energy source with renewable energy, which must also be combined with energy efficiency and conservation.

In the US, Greenpeace is pushing the Bush Administration to support investment in renewable energies like wind and solar. Unfortunately, it has been ExxonMobil that has been one of the largest obstacles to a transition from fossil fuels to clean safe energy sources.

Find out more about our campaign against ExxonMobil.