Next Texas Legislature Must Help Prevent Chemical Disasters 

Public Citizen offers suggestions for new protections

AUSTIN, Texas – On November 27, 2019, the TPC Group chemical plant exploded in Port Neches, Texas, injuring at least three people and forcing the evacuation of at least 50,000 the day before Thanksgiving. The Port Neches explosion occurred in the district of Texas Rep. Dade Phelan, who should champion new and stronger chemical safety laws to protect Texans. Adrian Shelley, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office, released the following statement:

Last year, on the day before Thanksgiving, residents of Port Neches endured a chemical explosion that injured three workers, damaged homes and businesses and forced 50,000 people to evacuate their homes. When the Texas Legislature convenes in January, we hope lawmakers will act to prevent dangerous chemical explosions like the one in Port Neches.

The TPC explosion occurred in the district of Rep. Dade Phelan; since then he has been outspoken about the need for state lawmakers to protect Texans from chemical disasters. We appreciate Rep. Phelan’s leadership on this issue. As Phelan prepares to assume leadership of the Texas House, we hope he will prioritize new protections for communities at risk from chemical disasters.

We recommend the 87th Legislature consider the following:

  • Increase funding for more inspections and monitoring to identify the facilities that pose the greatest public health risk.
  • Impose mandatory fines on the companies whose unauthorized releases cause harm.
  • Information sharing with neighbors about chemical stockpiles and emergency response plans.
  • Standards for above ground storage tanks in areas prone to flooding, storm surges and hurricanes.
  • Consider cumulative impacts from multiple pollution sources when permitting.