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Class Accuses Louisiana Refiner of Polluting

GRETNA, La. (CN) - A Louisiana used oil recycling refinery dumped hydrochloric acid and other poisons into the Mississippi River for two years and tried to conceal it, a class of 1,000 people claim in state court.

Lead plaintiff Stacy Davis claims the Omega Refining Omega has dumped thousands of pounds of noxious substances such as hydrochloric acid, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide since January 2012, and concealed extent of its pollution.

Omega did not properly report the discharges as required by state law, and/or reported inaccurate information about the discharges to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, according to the Jan. 6 lawsuit in Jefferson Parish Court.

The refinery is "within the general vicinity of dozens of schools, churches, hospitals, and residential and retirement communities" and is "continuously endangering the health and damaging the quality of life of its class members," the class claims.

The refinery on the Mississippi River receives used motor oil and other hazardous materials by train and barge and recycles it using a multistage distillation process.

Since early 2012, the refinery has repeatedly failed to prevent "frequent, foreseeable, and preventable breakdowns," Davis claims.

She claims it also violated its hourly permit emission limits for hydrochloric acid, nitrogen oxide and dioxide, sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide.

Since 2012, Davis claims, the refinery has failed to report an emergency condition at its refinery due to too many harmful chemicals being released on nine occasions, and has failed to report all chemicals and the proper levels released on 10 occasions.

She claims the plaintiffs had no idea the discharges were occurring until August 2014.

Omega Refining did not reply to a request for comment.

Davis et al. seek class certification and damages for personally injuries, physical and emotional distress.

They are represented by Timothy Falcon, of Marrero.

Also named as defendants are Vertex Refining and plant manager Stacy Lucas.

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