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June 25, 2021


Order Ensures Phillips 66 Acts to Protect Residents from Sulfur Dioxide Emissions

Chicago  — Attorney General Kwame Raoul today announced a lawsuit and an agreed interim order with Phillips 66 that ensures the company will take action to protect residents from sulfur dioxide emissions caused by contaminated sulfuric acid from Phillips 66's refinery in Roxana, Illinois. Raoul filed the lawsuit against Phillips 66 following releases of sulfur dioxide from four railroad tank cars containing contaminated sulfuric acid near the Illinois towns of Hartford and Wood River. As of June 9, the cars were resealed and returned to Phillips 66's refinery.

The interim order requires Phillips 66 to take immediate action to conduct a root cause analysis of the events causing the releases, submit the report to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) for review and approval, and establish procedures to prevent similar incidents in the future. Phillips 66 must also submit to the IEPA all air monitoring data, remove and dispose of the venting tank cars and their remaining contents, and monitor other tank cars loaded during the same time period for similar emissions.

"This order will protect residents of Roxana and Wood River from harmful sulfur dioxide emissions and ensure that Phillips 66 takes responsibility for allowing this harmful gas to be released into the atmosphere," Raoul said. "I am committed to continuing to work to hold Phillips 66 accountable for jeopardizing public health and the environment."

Raoul's lawsuit is based on a referral from the IEPA.

"This incident resulted in the release of unknown amounts of sulfuric acid and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, placing an undue threat on local residents and businesses," IEPA Director John Kim said. "The Interim Order will ensure Phillips 66 provides all relevant information related to the incident and prevents such an event from occurring in the future."

Phillips 66 operates a petroleum refinery in Roxana, Illinois. Between May 24 and May 25, four railroad tank cars leased by Phillips 66 were loaded with contaminated sulfuric acid. On June 2, those tank cars were loaded onto a train at a Norfolk Southern Railway transfer station. Later that day, a pressure relief valve on one of the tank cars activated and sulfur dioxide began venting to the atmosphere near the towns of Hartford and Wood River. A railway employee conducting a safety inspection was injured by the release. Representatives of Norfolk Southern Railway were unable to seal the venting tank car, and two other tank cars later began venting sulfur dioxide as well. The next morning, a fourth rail car began releasing sulfur dioxide, and a shelter in place order was issued for residents in the nearby towns of Roxana and Wood River. At least four other railcars containing contaminated sulfuric acid loaded between May 24 and May 25 were transported to Delaware, where they were vented under controlled conditions.

In the lawsuit, Raoul argues that the loading of contaminated sulfuric acid into Phillip 66's tank cars poses a substantial danger to the environment and to the public health and welfare of residents in the area. The lawsuit seeks civil penalties under the Illinois Environmental Protection Act.

Assistant Attorneys General Kevin Bonin and Brian Navarrete are handling the case for Raoul's Environmental Enforcement Division.

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