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Texas co. appeals $18M mercury storage penalty

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A Texas energy company convicted of illegally storing hazardous mercury in a rundown Rhode Island building has asked a federal appeals court to throw out an $18 million penalty.

A federal judge in October fined Southern Union $6 million and ordered it to pay an additional $12 million for storing the mercury without a permit in a neglected warehouse in Pawtucket, R.I.

The mercury was exposed to the public in 2004 after vandals broke into the building and dumped containers of the hazardous liquid at a nearby apartment complex.

Southern Union says in papers filed Tuesday with the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the fine was “grossly excessive” and far higher than the punishment it says is handed out for much more egregious behavior.

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