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Nasdaq: Celanese Corp Press Release on Plant's Raid in Mexico for Violating Environmental Laws

Nasdaq: Celanese Corp Press Release on Plant's Raid in Mexico for Violating Environmental Laws
Velma Anne Ruth, M.Ed. - Sat May 09, 2015 @ 02:48PM
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Celanese Corp Press Release on Plant's Raid in Mexico for Violating Environmental Laws

By GuruFocus, May 08, 2015, 06:04:36 PM EDT
Celanese Corp ( CE ) Plant in Mexico Raided by Criminal Investigators for Alleged Environmental Violantions, Reports Del Toro Carazo Abogados and Ramos & Hermosillo Abogados
Criminal investigators under Mexico's Attorney General (Procuradaria General de la Republica - PGR) raided the chemical plant of Grupo Celanese in Poncitlan, Jalisco, Mexico early this morning. Acting on a search warrant ordered by a Mexican Federal District Judge, they are investigating alleged violations of Mexican environmental law. The alleged violations include contaminating the Santiago River and soil with mercury and methyl ethyl ketone.
The raid followed a preliminary investigation by the PGR, which involved taking samples from the river and adjacent soil. In a report dated April 1, 2015, PGR investigators determined that Grupo Celanese leaked mercury into the river in concentrations higher than the allowed maximum of .01 mg of mercury per liter of water. The surrounding soil was also found to be contaminated with mercury and methyl ethyl ketone higher than allowed levels. The Santiago River is approximately 200 yards from the Celanese plant. Poncitlan, a town of about 45,000 people is around 50 miles from Guadalajara, and across the river some 250 yards away.
Celanese built the plant in 1947 and recently completed a 10 inch diameter natural gas pipeline as part of a 55 million dollar investment to expand capacity. Reportedly, this expansion caused it to be reclassified as a "high risk" facility from being a "medium risk" facility before, which resulted in a land-use and environmental disputes with the town. Celanese appealed to Mexico's Supreme Court to overrule Municipal Planning Officials The risk reclassification implied additional set-back and buffer zones around the plant. The Supreme Court rejected the Celanese appeal. Nonetheless, Celanese reportedly proceeded to increase factory production without the appropriate authorizations.
Celanese has faced serveral similar legal liabilities in the US, raising conerns on exporting pollution to other countries. In 1995, Hoechst Celanese was part of an $850 million settlement for leaking plastic plumbing pipes in U.S. homes. In 2000, OSHA fined Celanese for an accident involving uncontrolled chemical decomposition leading to a fatality in Alabama. In 2014 a South Carolina federal judge found Hoechst Celanese Corp liable for toxic waste damages to the surface waters and groundwaters, endangering health and diminishing property values.
The law firms of Del Toro Carazo Abogados and Ramos & Hermosillo Abogados are working closely with the Mexican Attorney General's office on this investigation concerning Celanese.
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