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California Pollution Lawsuit

Two Martinez residents, Alena Cruz and Shannon Payne, are suing PBF Energy, the owner of the Martinez Refining Company, for alleged federal pollution law violations. Filed in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, the lawsuit claims the refinery has caused toxic dust clouds to affect nearby neighborhoods, posing health risks. This legal action, initiated by their attorney Joseph Cotchett, follows a significant incident on Thanksgiving night in 2022, where the refinery’s malfunctioning equipment released spent catalyst, a toxic dust, into the community without notifying the public or regulators.

The lawsuit seeks to establish an independent oversight board and a medical surveillance program to monitor emissions and health impacts. Cruz and Payne, who live near the refinery and have experienced health issues potentially linked to the pollution, represent about 40,000 people in the surrounding areas potentially affected by the refinery’s emissions. While the Martinez Refining Company has refrained from commenting on the ongoing litigation, it has previously apologized and pledged to investigate and correct such incidents. Investigations by multiple agencies, including the EPA and the FBI, are still in progress.

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