Friday, November 4, 2011

Oil Refiner Facilities Manager Pleads Guilty in Environmental Case

BNA White Collar Crime Report states that a former manager for an oil refiner has pleaded guilty to "negligent endangerment in connection with the release of extremely high levels of hydrogen sulfide" in Louisiana. 
According to the government press release (available here):
The former asphalt facilities manager of Pelican Refining Company LLC (PRC), pleaded guilty today [october 31, 2011] to the crime of negligent endangerment under the Clean Air Act in federal court in Lafayette, La., announced Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the Department of Justice and Stephanie A. Finley, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana.
Mike LeBleu served as the asphalt facilities manager of the Pelican Refinery in Lake Charles, La., from May 9, 2005, through Oct. 15, 2009. LeBleu was a member of upper management with regard to the asphalt plant and had overall responsibility for the plant’s operations and personnel. According to court documents, LeBleu negligently caused the release of hydrogen sulfide (H2S), an extremely hazardous substance, into the air, which placed other persons in imminent danger of death and serious bodily injury.
LeBleu faces a maximum of one year in prison and a fine of $100,000.
According to government, the company, Pelican Refining Company LLC, and others have also pleaded guilty in the matter. 
In related cases, PRC pleaded guilty on Oct. 12, 2011, to felony violations of the Clean Air Act and obstruction of justice for its mismanagement of the refinery. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 15, 2011. Additionally, the company’s vice-president and general manager, Byron Hamilton, pleaded guilty to Clean Air Act negligent endangerment charges on July 6, 2011. Sentencing has yet to be scheduled for Hamilton.

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