Paraxylene spill at Montreal East in 2003 - Ultramar wishes to rectify matters



    MONTREAL, March 18 /CNW Telbec/ - Ultramar wants to respond to the report
televised yesterday by CBC's French network (Radio-Canada) and covered this
morning by some media in which it was stated that some information had been
hidden from the public further to a spill that occurred in 2003. Since the
information reported is erroneous, Ultramar wishes to recap the sequence of
events:

    
    - Ultramar still maintains that the paraxylene spill that occurred in
      April 2003 was the responsibility of the company Pétrochimie Coastal
      (today called Chimie Parachem). This company leased at the time (since
      1994), an Ultramar tank (located on land owned by the Montreal Port
      authorities, in sector 105) in which it stored paraxylene manufactured
      at its Montreal plant. Under the contract, Pétrochimie Coastal was
      responsible for the tank's operations, maintenance and repairs.

    - Again, in April 2003, during a routine inspection, Ultramar employees
      detected a possible spill. The company immediately notified Coastal, as
      well as relevant authorities, including Environment Canada, the
      Montreal Port and the Quebec Department of Sustainable Development,
      Environment and Parks.

    - In addition, citizen groups from the sector - the liaison committee
      with citizens from the Montreal East industrial association (CLIC), the
      Jacques Cartier ZIP Committee (priority intervention zone) and the
      joint municipality / industry committee (CMMI) - were informed during
      meetings, some of which were specific to the incident.

    - The members of these committees were regularly kept up to date
      regarding the progress of recuperation and decontamination work.

    - A press release was issued jointly by the Rivière-des-Prairies -
      Pointe-aux-Trembles - Montreal East borough and Pétrochimie Coastal.
      This information was subsequently published by the weekly Avenir de
      l'Est.

    - Finally, in April 2004, the Montreal East CMMI organized an information
      session for the general public intended to explain the major industrial
      risks for the population. Ultramar referred to the 2003 spill, among
      others, by distributing to the hundreds of people in attendance a
      document outlining the spill.
    

    Based on these clarifications, it is totally false to claim that this
situation was kept hidden from the public. Furthermore, it is important to
mention that, even though the product belonged to Pétrochimie Coastal who was
responsible for monitoring it, Ultramar acted responsibly to limit the extent
of the spill and prevent the product from spreading beyond the property's
boundaries. Ultramar also made sure to maintain a frank and open dialogue with
all authorities concerned in order for the work to comply with their
requirements. Ultramar obtained all the required authorizations to complete
the necessary work, acted diligently and met the set objectives at all times.

    About Ultramar

    Headquartered in Montreal, Ultramar owns and operates a refinery that
currently has a production capacity of 215,000 barrels of oil per day, at
Lévis, near Quebec City. It markets gasoline and diesel fuel via a network of
approximately 1,000 service stations and convenience stores and 85 cardlocks
for the trucking industry, in addition to selling home heating oil to some
150,000 customers. Ultramar Ltd., a subsidiary of Valero Energy Corporation
(VLO on the New York Stock Exchange), employs over 3,700 persons and its
refining, distribution and retail sales networks contribute to supporting more
than 10,000 jobs, making it one of the largest employers in Eastern Canada.
For more information on Ultramar, visit the Company's website at:
http://www.ultramar.ca.




For further information:

For further information: Michel Martin, Manager, Public and Government
Affairs, (514) 499-6211, michel_martin@ultramar.ca; Source: Ultramar Ltd.

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