BASF Fina Petrochemicals has been ordered to pay US$203,125 in penalties for environmental violations found during routine inspections. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approved penalties totaling $877,222 against 69 regulated entities, including the Port Arthur plant.
The company was cited for air quality violations and for problems the plant experienced with it's cooling tower during cold weather. Under certain conditions, the tower creates a plume of steam that blankets the highway like dense fog. Though functioning properly, the cooling tower is located too close to the road, and sometimes during cold weather will create excessive steam that covers the roadway and makes if difficult for motorists to see clearly.
The company has been ordered to construct an auxiliary cooling tower on the backside of the property, to be completed by June 30, 2009. Of the total fine, BASF Fina will contribute half, $101,562, to the Lighthouse Program, a Supplemental Environmental Project designed to fund home energy projects for qualifying low income residents in the city's west side.