The Deer Park chemical facility that caught fire last week has a long history of state and federal environmental violations. According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) has been fined for multiple infractions that could have been avoided. In 2008, ITC was fined when a relief valve failed causing 6,745 pounds of unauthorized butadiene to be released into the atmosphere due to the facility's failure to prevent an increase in pressure. The Commission said the event was "avoidable by better operational practices." Butadiene is a carcinogen to humans and is used to make plastics.
If you work in agriculture, you have almost certainly been exposed to herbicides. Although chemical companies like to say that herbicides are harmless to humans when used properly, the truth may be quite different. If lawsuits pending in California are successful, chemical companies and their allies in agriculture may be forced to weigh the short-term economic benefit of using herbicides such as Roundup, manufactured by Monsanto Inc.