Friday, September 19, 2008

Speaking of Criminal...

LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — Citgo Petroleum Corp. pleaded guilty Wednesday to violating environmental laws in a massive 2006 oil spill at its refinery in southwestern Louisiana, federal officials said.

The spill shut 20 miles of the Calcasieu River, its ship channel and three area lakes for weeks. The cleanup cost millions of dollars and involved thousands of workers.

Citgo pleaded guilty to negligently failing to maintain storm water tanks and failing to maintain adequate storm water storage capacity at its refinery, resulting in about 53,000 barrels of oil being discharged into the Indian Marais and Calcasieu rivers, the U.S. Justice Department said in a news release.

The company must pay $13 million, the largest fine ever for a criminal misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act, the Justice Department said.

The refinery, which is in Sulphur about 20 miles from the Texas border, also must implement a comprehensive environmental compliance program.

"The protection of the environment is among our highest priorities," said U.S. Attorney Donald Washington. "We will not allow corporations or their employees to escape liability for failing to do their part in preventing harm to the environment."

It's this last quote that interests me -- interests me in the way that things do sometimes -- when they stand out as irony that could only be written in fiction -- but there they are in real life.

Once I was at the orange bowl parade with my cousins -- who own dog tacks and casinos. It was years ago, when the lottery was just infringing on our societies -- maybe still illegal in Massachusetts... anyway -- the lotto float rolled passed us, sitting there in the bleachers. My cousin -- older -- the one running the business -- stood up and with his fist up started yelling -- "down with lotto, don't take the poor people's money."

as if...

as if the government were in a position to make holier than thou quotes about protecting the environment -- and the day after easing drilling restrictions.

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