Not to pile it on, but Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan announced Thursday he had filed suit against beleaguered Arkema, Inc. now under a mountain of criticism for how it handled its Crosby plant operation during Hurricane Harvey flooding.
“This was a very dangerous situation,” County Attorney Ryan said in a press release. “Arkema must take responsibility for its inability to ensure the safety of the people of the Crosby community and those who protect them.”
Arkema had already been sued by local residents who had to be evacuated from the area when toxic substances were released into the air during a controlled burn. This had followed an even earlier suit filed by first responders who were exposed to the chemical release when called to the scene. More than 30 were taken to the hospital after breathing in fumes. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is continuing to investigate the fires there.
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As most everyone knows by now, the plant located about 30 miles southeast of Houston lost power during the heavy flooding. None of its backup plans worked and they lost the ability to keep the volatile compounds stored there cool. The chemicals — more than 500,000 gallons of organic peroxide — started burning on August 31.
Ryans said the emissions violated the Texas Clear Air Act and because waste from the facility spilled into a nearby waterway, the company violated the Texas Water Code as well.
Authorities had set up a 1.5-mile perimeter outside the plant and evacuated residents but the debris exceeded that arbitrary boundary.
Ryan's press release said that besides seeking financial damages, his office wants the company to develop improved procedures including better alerts to residents living nearby.