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Deadly Houston Explosion is a Tragic Reminder of Need for Chemical Protections

Statement of Adrian Shelley, Director, Public Citizen’s Texas Office

Note: Today, a massive explosion at the Watson Grinding and Manufacturing facility in northwest Houston killed two people and sent at least one to the hospital. The blast shook homes within a 20-mile radius and reportedly shook some homes off their foundations. Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña said propylene, a highly flammable chemical, was burning for several hours after the explosion. Peña said that firefighters are allowing the remaining fire to burn itself out.

This explosion is a grim reminder that petrochemical dangers are not confined to Houston’s ship channel and petrochemical corridor. Our hearts go out to the families of those lost and everyone impacted by this incident. We are thankful that this did not occur during the day, when commuters would have been on the streets and children would have been on their way to a nearby school.

This violent explosion comes just two months after the Trump administration rolled back federal chemical safety rules. Governments at all levels must do more to protect everyone in the Houston region from the unacceptable risk of chemical disasters. Public Citizen extends its deepest sympathies to the victims’ families.