Texas Explosion Underscores Need to Hold Polluters Accountable, Protect Community Health

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

May 6, 2023
Allyn West, (713) 724-1810, awest@edf.org

"The explosion in Deer Park late Friday comes as an exclamation point following the impassioned testimony given not even 24 hours earlier at a public meeting focused on another chemical disaster in this very same community. Decades of inaction and indifference from state and regional environmental agencies missed a series of warning signs at ITC’s Deer Park tank farm before the days of fires in 2019 led to disturbingly high levels of cancer-causing benzene that lingered in communities and around schools for weeks. The plume seen today is a dark reminder of the price communities living near these facilities are expected to pay – and those working at them, too, as nine were hospitalized. Yesterday, it’s ITC. Then, it’s INEOS. Today, it’s Shell and Pemex.

"When is enough enough? TCEQ has repeatedly neglected to enforce environmental laws, and the Texas legislature continues to refuse to equip the agency with the resources and mandate to prevent these disasters from happening in the first place. But there’s time to make it better. The legislature must find the will to empower TCEQ to hold polluters accountable and protect the health and safety of all Texans."

# # #

One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org) creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 3 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund