ExxonMobil settlement to fund BR-area projects

A $2.3 million settlement with ExxonMobil announced in August was finalized Thursday, which means money for beneficial environmental projects included in the settlement will start arriving at area organizations in about three months.

“All those projects, they’re going to come to fruition soon, or at least start,” said Cheryl Nolan, DEQ assistant secretary in the Office of Environmental Compliance.

The state Department of Environmental Quality announced Friday the final settlement received concurrence from the state Attorney General’s Office in December and was signed Thursday by Nolan to make the settlement final.

The settlement means ExxonMobil will pay $300,000 in a civil penalty to DEQ, pay for $1 million in beneficial environmental projects and no less than $1 million on spill prevention control and countermeasures projects at the company’s Baton Rouge complex, according to DEQ. The settlement addresses a number of compliance orders and penalty notices that have occurred since 2008.

“ExxonMobil worked with the LDEQ to identify ways we can go beyond regulatory and permit requirements to continue to enhance our environmental performance going forward,” Stephanie Cargile said in an emailed statement. “In addition to making direct penalty payments to LDEQ, ExxonMobil will make donations to local nonprofit organizations. ExxonMobil voluntarily identified several projects that would enhance the environment of neighborhoods near our operations. We received input from our neighbors and regulatory agencies to address community needs, and advocated for these types of projects in the settlement.”

The environmental projects that will receive money from the settlement are:

$400,000 to reduce the ExxonMobil facilities’ groundwater consumption by 1 million gallons a day.

$250,000 to DEQ to improve three monitoring stations on the Mississippi River that provide early warning if there is a chemical spill in the river.

$100,000 to ReBuilding Together, a group that works with low-income and elderly residents to make homes more air-tight and energy efficient.

$25,000 to Baton Rouge Green for a NeighborWoods project.

$29,000 to Louisiana Foundation for Excellence in Science, Technology and Education for air-quality projects.

$100,000 for the East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness for disaster preparedness programs.

$25,000 to install an upgraded meteorological station at the ExxonMobil Baton Rouge complex for better incident response.

$50,000 for a study to get better information about traffic and age of cars on the road in East Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes to be used in new ozone pollution modeling.

$50,000 to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation to help the state Department of Natural Resources in its groundwater education campaign.