MADIGAN, GLASGOW TAKE ACTION IN EXXONMOBIL REFINERY INCIDENT Complaint Seeks Investigation of Oil Release, Cleanup in Surrounding Area

October 31

CHICAGO – Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow filed a four-count complaint and sought a preliminary injunction today against ExxonMobil Oil Corp. alleging environmental violations after apparent operational errors at the company’s refinery in Channahon Township caused a burst of oil mist to be released into the surrounding area on Oct. 19, 2012.

According to the complaint, the oil release allegedly occurred as a result of procedural failures at the refinery’s coker unit, sending the oil mixture into the air and falling onto homes and farms within a four-mile radius of the refinery, which is located at I-55 and Arsenal Road. The incident prompted authorities to shut down Arsenal Road because of the slippery conditions created by the oil mixture settling on the roadway. Oil residue was also detected in nearby Jackson Creek and along the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

The preliminary injunction seeks to require ExxonMobil to:

  • Complete an investigation within seven days to determine the cause of the release and report its findings to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, 
  • Submit a detailed work schedule for necessary improvements,
  • Report all pollutants and quantities involved in the incident,
  • Collect water samples in Jackson Creek and soil samples along Arsenal Road to be analyzed,
  • Identify residents, landowners and local government agencies it communicated with following the release, 
  • Provide equipment maintenance and inspection reports for the pressure safety valves involved in the release, and 
  • Provide a detailed explanation of the procedures used to re-start the coker unit following the October 19 release.  

“We’re seeking a comprehensive investigation of the cause of the oil release and development of a thorough cleanup plan to ensure that ExxonMobil is held accountable for the environmental impact caused by its refinery’s release of oil into the air and land,” Madigan said. 

“ExxonMobil must accept full responsibility for the harm this oily mist caused our environment as well as the farms, houses, vehicles, streets and other personal and public property in our surrounding communities,” said State’s Attorney Glasgow. “The preliminary injunction we seek in cooperation with Attorney General Madigan ensures that this incident will be thoroughly investigated and that ExxonMobil will clean up damaged properties and natural resources.”

A status hearing on the matter has been set for 9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 2 in Courtroom 236 in the Courthouse Annex at 57 N. Ottawa Street in Joliet.

Supervising Attorney Rebecca Burlingham and Assistant Attorney General Robert Petti are handling the case for Madigan’s Environmental Enforcement Bureau.