Statement of Stephanie Thomas, Researcher and Organizer, Public Citizen’s Texas Office
Note: Today, an explosion at the TPC Group petrochemical facility in Port Neches, Texas – about 90 miles east of Houston – triggered a massive fire, injuring three workers and forcing the evacuation of residents within half a mile of the site. The fire is yet another in a series of dangerous and sometimes deadly explosions in Texas’ petrochemical corridor this year. This explosion occurred less than a week after the Trump administration’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rescinded the chemical disaster rule, which was designed to prevent these types of dangerous incidents. Furthermore, the EPA Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) website shows that the TPC Group has had high priority violations of the federal Clean Air Act every quarter for the past three years.
These types of dangerous fires are all too common in Texas’ petrochemical corridor. Now, instead of gathering with loved ones to relax and celebrate Thanksgiving, some in Port Neches will be tending to injured loved ones and cleaning up wreckage from the blast.
It’s appalling that just last week, the Trump administration rescinded the chemical disaster rule, which was designed to prevent exactly this type of tragic incident by mandating that companies use safer technologies and requiring third-party audits and public access to chemical safety information.
Enough is enough. The EPA and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality must do their jobs and start putting the health of people over the profits of petrochemical companies.