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L.A. Refinery To Charge 109 Enviromental Violations

L.A. refinery charged with 109 environmental law violations

A refinery in the port community of Wilmington has been charged with more than 100 environmental violations for allegedly dumping harmful chemicals into local storm drains, officials said.

City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo filed 109 charges against Danbury, Conn.-based Praxair Inc., which produces liquefied gas products. He alleges the company violated a permit from the California Regional Water Quality Control Board limiting chemical dumping.

"Industrial polluters that contaminate our water systems threaten the health and safety of the children in some of our most disadvantaged neighborhoods," Delgadillo said in a statement released by his office Monday.

Messages left after hours for Praxair by The Associated Press were not immediately returned.

The complaint focuses on violations between September 2003 and April 2004 but also includes several from August 2002 in which 12,000 gallons of liquid containing copper, lead, zinc, nickel and residual chlorine were dumped into storm drains. The drains flow into the Dominguez Channel, which empties into the ocean.

The state board referred the case to Delgadillo, and the complaint was filed with the court Friday.

Each charge carries a maximum penalty of $25,000. An arraignment was set for Nov. 5 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

"Industrial polluters will not be tolerated," said Francine Diamond, chairwoman of the water quality board. "Today's enforcement action is a victory for the residents of Wilmington and for everyone who cares about public health and the environment."

Praxair, which lists its annual sales at $5.6 billion, uses technology to produce gases such as oxygen, nitrogen and argon for sale. Its products are transported in pressurized container trucks and shipped to customers across the western United States.

Earlier this month, Praxair was among 318 companies from 23 countries included in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. Index looks at the financial performance of leading corporations that are committed to sustainability on a global scale.