ExxonMobil Massachusetts fuel depot shut down after illegal aliens found working there

Published 7 July 2006

Worries about the safety of super tankers carrying oil at Boston Harbor combine with unease about illegal immigration, as more than a dozen illegal immigrants are arrested while being used at the harbor for clean-up of hazardous material (what is more, the subcontractor also violated the law requiring protective gear to be worn during such operation)

Worries about the risk of terror attacks associated with fuel tankers combined Wednesday with anxiety about illegal immigration which lead the U.S. Coast Guard to shut down the ExxonMobil fuel depot in Everett, Massachusetts, for most of Wednesday for a “serious security breakdown” after fifteen illegal immigrants were arrested while working for a contractor of the worldwide petroleum giant, officials said. The illegal aliens, all from Ecuador, were hired to clean up hazardous materials near ExxonMobil storage tanks that hold gasoline, jet fuel, kerosene, and other volatile materials. They were arrested after failing to check in with security while attempting to access equipment they had stored next door at Distrigas, which operates a terminal containing potentially explosive liquefied natural gas.

There was a serious security breakdown” at the ExxonMobil facility, said Coast Guard chief petty officer Scott Carr, adding that “all operations” were suspended until the company complies with security regulations. The company was allowed to resume operations by 9 p.m. Wednesday after presenting the captain of the port with a new security plan.

DHS and state security experts have been on edge since 9/11 about fuel shipments through Boston Harbor. An attack on one of the fuel tankers could lead to catastrophe. Attention has been especially focused on the Distrigas LNG tankers, which steam into the harbor under heavily armed sea and air security and dock at the company’s Everett facility on the Mystic River. Authorities said the illegal workers, two of whom had warrants for ignoring deportation orders, were working for Randolph-based Fleet Environmental Services, an ExxonMobil contractor hired to clean up a recent petroleum spill.

Meanwhile, local officials expressed outrage at the security breach, which was caught by an alert Everett marine cop who noticed the workers were not wearing protective suits and failed to follow security protocol while attempting to access the Distrigas dock.