Texas sues Shell over Houston-area chemical fire in May
Alejandra Martinez reports in The Texas Tribune that Texas has taken legal action against Shell, filing a civil lawsuit over a chemical fire that raged for nearly three days at its Houston-area facility in May.
In a nutshell:
The lawsuit seeks $1 million in damages, claiming the three-day blaze at Shell’s Deer Park facility caused air and water pollution that violated state law. The legal move is based on claims of violations of state environmental laws meant to safeguard air and water quality. This incident has reignited concerns about the environmental practices of petrochemical companies lining the Houston Ship Channel, following a similar chemical fire in 2019.
Air Alliance Houston, a nonprofit environmental justice organization, said in a press release the day of the Shell fire that “communities were left fearing for their health and safety as dark smoke billowed across the area” just like in 2019 and that this chemical event served as “yet another reminder of the threat posed by the petrochemical companies that line our Houston Ship Channel.”
The big picture:
The Gulf Coast region is no stranger to fires at petrochemical facilities. EHN produced this video highlighting a recent investigation by The Texas Tribune and Public Health Watch into a previous fire in Deer Park, Texas, in 2019 that burned for three days. In both fires, thick plumes of smoke exposed nearby communities to harmful air pollutants. These pollutants, including benzene and other toxic chemicals, can lead to respiratory issues and cardiovascular problems, and pose long-term cancer risks. Such incidents underscore the broader dangers associated with pollution from fossil fuel facilities, which frequently release hazardous substances into the air and water, endangering public health.
Shell has been here before. Dana Drugmand reported for The New Ledeabout a Pennsylvania lawsuit alleging that Shell is repeatedly violating state and federal air pollution rules and harming the health of area residents.
Read about the latest Shell lawsuit at The Texas Tribune.