EPA and Texas Ignored Warnings at Chemical Site. Then an Inferno Erupted.

"Regulators repeatedly documented — but did little to address — problems at a Houston-area tank farm before a disastrous fire struck in March 2019. The fire released toxic chemicals into nearby communities for weeks."

"DEER PARK, Texas — Danny Hardy was sitting in the third-row pew at Deer Park First Baptist Church when the cellphones began buzzing in unison. Several men quickly shifted in their seats — all of them first responders or employees at one of the dozens of nearby refineries and chemical plants.

Hardy, a retired police officer and head of the church security team, wasn’t alarmed. After living in the Houston suburb of Deer Park for nearly 40 years, he was accustomed to the sight of refinery flares burning in the night, the occasional stench of chemicals and the sound of sirens wailing in the distance. Deer Park was nestled in the heart of North America’s petrochemical industry. These things were to be expected.

But as ripples of conversation spread through the congregation, it became clear that this emergency alert — on Sunday, March 17, 2019 — was different. After a few tense moments Wayne Riddle, a former mayor, stepped onstage and addressed the crowded worship center.

There had been an accident. A facility housing millions of barrels of volatile chemicals was burning a little more than two miles away. City officials had issued a shelter-in-place advisory."

David Leffler and Savanna Strott report for Public Health Watch April 26, 2023.


Part 2: Toxic Benzene Lingered for Weeks After Shelter-in-Place Warnings Ended Following 2019 Houston-Area Chemical Fire" (Public Health Watch)

Source: Public Health Watch, 04/28/2023