(PatriotWise.com) — The state of Texas has filed a lawsuit against oil giant Shell, requesting $1 million in compensation for damage caused by a fire at the Deer Park petrochemical plant near Houston. The fire started on May 5 in the olefins unit, where a chemical compound composed of carbon and hydrogen atoms was stored. The flames burned for three days, and Texas officials say nearby waterways were contaminated.
The Texas attorney general’s office filed the lawsuit in Travis County on behalf of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Shell spokesperson Natalie Gunnell said she would not comment on the lawsuit but added, “The Deer Park chemicals facility remains in a recovery phase as we continue to investigate the cause of the fire and rebuild the damaged portion of the plant.”
The suit alleges that “vast quantities of water” used to contain the fire resulted in 68.7 gallons of contaminated liquid being “unlawfully discharged” into the Houston Ship Canal. No injuries resulted from the blaze, but one employee later filed a lawsuit claiming he had suffered injuries to his neck and spine.
When the incident ended on May 8, Shell issued a statement saying there had been no damage to the surrounding environment, but not everyone agreed. Environmental protection campaigners at Air Alliance Houston said local communities feared for their health and safety as “dark smoke billowed across the area.” The group also reminded Shell that this was not the first time local people had found themselves in that position.
In 2019, tanks containing millions of gallons of flammable chemicals caught fire at Deer Park and emitted black smoke across a vast area of Houston. Some of the tanks collapsed, pouring dangerous chemicals into the shipping canal, and killing countless fish and birds. Intercontinental Terminals Company, a subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate Mitsui Group, owned the tanks.
An Air Alliance Houston spokesperson said the latest fire was “yet another reminder of the threat posed by the petrochemical companies that line our Houston Ship Channel.”
Copyright 2023, PatriotWise.com