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A South Texas judge has fined Citgo Petroleum more than $2 million after finding it guilty of felony violations of the U.S. Clean Air Act by its Corpus Christi refinery.

U.S. District Judge John Rainey handed down his verdict and punishment Wednesday in Corpus Christi.

Dozens of residents near Citgo's Corpus Christi refinery testified that they were sickened by pollution from the refinery. The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports prosecutors accused the Venezuelan-owned company of not installing roofs on two oil-water separator tanks the company operated between 1994 and 2003.

Dick DeGuerin of Houston, who represented Citgo, said the company will appeal the conviction.

Melissa Jarrell, a Texas A&M-Corpus Christi associate criminal justice professor, predicted the verdict could prompt other air pollution victims to seek similar prosecutions elsewhere.


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