Citgo Petroleum has been indicted for allegedly violating the US Clean Air Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act at its Corpus Christi refinery.
The federal grand jury in Corpus Christi returned the ten-count indictment against Houston-based Citgo Wednesday.
The wholly owned subsidiary of Venezuela's state oil company denies breaking any laws.
The indictment accuses Citgo of two counts of violating an emissions standard for emitting benzene from its refinery. Benzene is a hazardous chemical found to cause cancer in people exposed to small amounts. Citgo also is charged with operating the facility without the necessary emissions controls.
The Justice Department said in a statement that 20 protected birds were found coated with oil as a result of landing in open top tanks.
If convicted, Citgo faces fines of up to a half (M) million dollars -- or twice the gross economic gain, whichever is greater.