Texas Explosion Shows Need for Stronger Protections, Accountability

Statement from Dr. Elena Craft, Associate Vice President, Climate and Health, Environmental Defense Fund

March 22, 2023
Allyn West, (713) 724-1810, awest@edf.org

(Houston, Texas, March 22, 2023) — An explosion at the INEOS Phenol plant In Pasadena, Texas, near Houston, sent at least one worker to the hospital, shut down the Houston Ship Channel and created a fire that burned for nearly an hour. Since 2019, this plant has reported 113 violations to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. It’s been on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of “high-priority violators” the last two quarters.

“People who live and work near the Houston Ship Channel shouldn’t have to wonder whether today’s the day it’s going to happen again. Today, it happened again. Outside Houston, a worker was hospitalized after a chemical fire at the INEOS Phenol plant in Pasadena filled the sky with smoke and burned for nearly an hour – about four years to the day after the series of chemical fires at the ITC plant in Deer Park nearby burned for three days straight, revealing for everyone how communities were exposed because the state was unprepared. Though Harris County made unprecedented investments to better respond to these disasters, the state is not holding the corporations responsible for them to the highest standards of compliance. These disasters are preventable. We do not have to accept them as the cost of doing business. Today’s disaster shows that Texas’ highest elected officials and the leaders of the environmental agency they’ve appointed aren’t doing everything in their power — including more frequent inspections and stronger enforcement of the laws meant to protect everyone — to ensure that Ship Channel communities are safe.”

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