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Dallas Business Journal: Celanese Corp.'s chemical plant raided in Jalisco, Mexico

Dallas Business Journal: Celanese Corp.'s chemical plant raided in Jalisco, Mexico
Velma Anne Ruth, M.Ed. - Tue May 12, 2015 @ 10:41AM
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Celanese Corp.'s chemical plant raided in Jalisco, Mexico

May 11, 2015, 1:09pm CDT
Nicholas Sakelaris, Staff Writer
Dallas Business Journal

Mexican officials raided a Celanese Corp. chemical plant in Poncitlan, Jalisco, Mexico, accusing the company of contaminating the environment.
Mexican authorities alleged that Irving-based Celanese allowed illegal levels of mercury and methyl ethyl ketone to leak into the Santiago River and nearby soil, according to Ramos & Hermosillo Abogados, lawyers working on behalf of the Mexican Attorney General's office.
Authorities said they acted after receiving a search warrant from a Mexican Federal District Judge.
According to the government's allegations, soil samples showed levels of .01 milligrams of mercury per liter of water, a violation of Mexican environmental law. Poncitlan, a town of about 45,000 people, is about 250 yards from the plant while the river itself is about 200 yards, according to the law firm's release.
Celanese issued a statement saying the plant continues to operate normally and without interruption despite the search warrant executed by Mexican authorities.
"The allegations referenced in this news release are baseless and without a foundation of fact or scientific data," according to Celanese. "The plant is currently under no citation for an environmental regulatory violation."
In addition to the pollution concerns, Mexican authorities allege that Celanese lacks the proper permitting to expand the facility and could be operating illegally.
The 1947 plant recently added a new 10-inch diameter natural gas pipeline, which would raise the profile of the facility to “high risk.”
Celanese also sought approval for a $55 million expansion of the facility, which produces cigarette filters and plastics.
Celanese responded to the allegations saying it did receive proper authorization for the plant expansion and operation.
A landowner has authorization to build homes near the Celanese facility, and the “high-risk” nature of the facility conflicts with plans for residential homes, according to the government. The landowner and Celanese have been sparring in court since 2006 and there are several trials ongoing at this time, the law firm said.
Ramos & Hermosillo Abogados also represent that landowner in court.
Facing opposition from the nearby towns, Celanese appealed to Mexico’s Supreme Court to overrule municipal regulations. The court rejected Celanese’s appeal but there are concerns on whether the facility continues to operate beyond the scope of its permitting.
Nicholas covers the energy beat for the Dallas Business Journal.
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