Under The Volcano

Crown Central Petroleum spews, sputters and flares up. Neighbors of the plant view it uneasily, never quite sure when it's going to blow.

Somehow the Houghs slept through the latest blast. By then they had moved into a new apartment less than a mile from Crown, enabling Ricky to go to the same school with minimal disruption to his routine. Tamathia Hough has developed a fatalistic perspective on their neighbor.

"If you're going to die, you're going to die," she says. She wishes the world could return to the days of horses and wagons. But since that won't happen anytime soon, she says, people ought to clean up their own messes and not fixate on refineries like Crown.

"The way I feel about plants is they're always going to be there, so people have to deal with it," she says.

Tamathia Hough, Ricky and pal Joe Lopez, one day after learning their apartments were being condemned.
Deron Neblett
Tamathia Hough, Ricky and pal Joe Lopez, one day after learning their apartments were being condemned.
Crown executive Randy Trembly finds the refinery's latest troubles "heartbreaking."
Deron Neblett
Crown executive Randy Trembly finds the refinery's latest troubles "heartbreaking."

"Until we run out of fossil fuels," chimes in Ricky.

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