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EPA wants investigation of ExxonMobil refinery incident

Police look toward plume smoke or steam rising arewhere there is possible leak ExxMobil Refinery ChannahIllinois Friday October 19 2012.

Police look on toward a plume of smoke or steam rising in the area where there is a possible leak at the Exxon Mobil Refinery in Channahon, Illinois, Friday, October 19, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun Times Media

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Updated: October 24, 2012 7:52PM



CHANNAHON TOWNSHIP — The state is seeking legal action against the ExxonMobil Oil Corp. refinery because of the Friday incident that shot an airborne oil mist as far as four miles away.

State regulators announced Wednesday they have asked the Illinois Attorney General to take enforcement action against the refinery for putting nearby residents at risk of exposure to pollutants.

Hydrocarbons released into the air had an impact on Jackson Creek, Arsenal Road and the Union Pacific railroad tracks, as well as soil in the area, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency said in a written statement. Arsenal Road was shut down all day because the oil residue made the surface so slippery.

ExxonMobil also has done cleanups at 47 residences. The company is cleaning oil residue off houses, decks, fences and grills, a company spokeswoman said.

The company also offered to wash cars and trucks that were soiled by the oil release. So far, 130 personal vehicles and five semitrailers have been washed, with two more semitrailers scheduled for cleaning.

The release occurred sometime between 8:46 a.m. and 9:15 a.m., the state EPA said.

An incident at a coker unit caused the release of coker gas oil, distillate and naphtha into the air. The coker unit was shut down.

The EPA has asked the attorney general to require an investigation into the cause of the accident, with reports submitted to the state that would include information on the amount of contaminants released into the air and copies of maintenance records. The EPA also wants ExxonMobil to sample affected land and Jackson Creek and provide the results to the state.



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