Another chemical plant posed a risk in southeast Texas. As reported by news sources, components of the Enterprise Products plant on FM 1942 in Mont Belvieu in Chambers County caught on fire Friday night. The fire was finally contained at about 8:00 p.m., according to an announcement by a local sheriff. The plant was initially closed off, and later both the location was confirmed and the nature of the blaze: a petrochemical fire. The flames were observed shortly after 7:00 p.m. from another plant some six or seven miles away. There has been no official statement of the cause of the fire, though a company executive confirmed that it came from an over-pressurized well. Fortunately, no injuries have yet been reported, though a prior pipeline explosion in 2011 at the company was fatal.
On June 29, John O'Conner took over the DuPont Chemical Plant in La Porte, Texas. He is the 5th to take over in the past 6 years, following a string of DuPont accidents. The most recent accident was the December tank spill, and the most notable accident was the gas release that killed four last November at its Lannete Unit in La Porte.
In a public meeting this month, Randy Clements, a manager of DuPont's La Porte plant, addressed lapses in safety procedures that played a part in the deaths of four workers at the plant last November. The special meeting held within the La Porte Citizen's Advisory Council (CAC) was called to address further citations issued on DuPont by the Safety and Health Administration for persistent safety violations at the pesticide unit. The CAC, formed within the community to address industrial disasters, aims to increase communication between residents and industry leaders, but Clements would not field any oral questions or concerns at the meeting due to pending litigation. Attendees were instead encouraged to write their thoughts down.
According to the Associated Press, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will host a public forum in Galena Park on proposed rules that would require stricter emission controls and monitoring standards. Dozens of people are expected to testify about the health effects of living in such close proximity to the refineries, while industry representatives will repeat their claim that the new rules are financially burdensome and superfluous. The American Petroleum Institute, an oil and gas lobbying group, has called the intended environmental benefits of the rules "questionable." The EPA proposal would require refiners to place monitors on the fences of communities like Manchester to track emissions of the carcinogen benzene, upgrade storage tank and coke unit emission controls and regulate flaring. EPA officials estimate such actions could reduce toxic air emissions by as much as 5,600 tons a year, directly affecting the 5 million people in the U.S. who live within a 32-mile radius of oil refineries.