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2 petrochemical site fires endanger residents

The southeast regions of both Louisiana and Texas share many commonalities, including a plethora of petrochemical plants dotting the horizon. These plants are the lifeblood of their communities, bringing jobs and opportunities to the residents.

But along with the benefits, there are also some adverse consequences of living and working in the shadow of these colossal structures. That was made quite evident recently after a massive fire at a petrochemical storage facility near Houston that first ignited on March 17. And while Texas took the hit this time, similar problems could develop in the future at one of the peterochemical plant operation sites in south Louisiana.

Second Texas site up in flames

Before all the ashes had cooled at the Intercontinental Terminals Company at the Deer Park conflagration a few miles outside of Houston, Texas, officials faced another blaze only a few miles away at another petrochemical plant located in Crosby.

This latest fire northeast of Houston at the KMCO site claimed one worker's life and injured two others critically. Reportedly, a holding tank filled with flammable chemicals ignited on April 2. The Harris County Sheriff issued a tweet acknowledging the worker's death and confirming that two others had been life-flighted to a medical facility for treatment of their injuries and burns.

Legal repercussions from fire

At least one lawsuit has already been filed in connection with the most recent blaze. The plaintiff, the Texas Attorney General, filed a petition in an Austin state district court on behalf of the state Commission on Environmental Quality. The plaintiff requests that the Court issue a permanent injunction against KCMO, as well as compensation for the cost of investigating the fire, attorneys' fees, civil penalties and court costs.

This is not the first tangle that Texas authorities have had with the same petrochemical company. Ten years ago, a Texas court granted an injunction against the company to the Harris County plaintiff. In it, the defendant was ordered to grant easy access to the plant to investigators and to provide prompt notification of any releases from the site, in addition to paying $100K in civil damages.

A dangerous industry

Those who work in the petrochemical industry understand the dangers they face on a daily basis. But one does not even have to work in that field to be negatively impacted after disasters occur like those two recent explosions and infernos at the Texas sites. Simply living downwind and in proximity to the burning sites can be enough to trigger breathing difficulties and other signs of chemical exposure.

If you experience such difficulties from similar catastrophes in or near your community, you may have recourse to pursue financial recovery for any injuries or damages you may suffer.

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