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After Devastating Plant Explosions, Harris County Sues Over Trump’s Regulatory Rollbacks

Houston Refinery Explosion Lawyer | Harris County Refinery Explosion Lawyer | Texas Refinery Explosion Lawyer

Harris County is taking the Trump administration to court over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to rollback the Chemical Disaster Rule, a set of regulations intended to prevent devastating plant and refinery explosions similar to those that have rocked the southeast Texas region in recent months.

“The federal government is failing in its responsibility to protect us from dangerous chemical accidents,” the Harris County Attorney’s Office said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “The EPA’s action gutted safety protections for chemical accidents and further endangers our neighborhoods in Harris County.”

What is the Chemical Disaster Rule?

The Chemical Disaster Rule was developed by the EPA during the Obama administration, following a catastrophic fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15 people and leveled nearly the entire town of West, Texas in 2013.

The regulations required chemical plants and refineries to, among other things, thoroughly investigate accidents and provide the public with more information about those incidents. In addition, the Chemical Disaster Rule imposed stricter requirements on the storage of volatile chemicals and required plant operators to share planning information with local first responders.

Unfortunately, the EPA moved to weaken the Chemical Disaster Rule shortly after President Trump took office in 2017. Last year, the agency overturned the regulations, asserting they were no longer “reasonable or practicable.”

6 Major Plant Explosions in Less than 12 Months

Since then, 14 states and the District of Columbia have filed suit against the Trump administration in a bid to save the Chemical Disaster Rule. Harris County filed its petition in Washington D.C. circuit court late last month.

Southeast Texas is home to the largest concentration of petrochemical processing and storage facilities in the world, and thousands of people throughout the region live in the shadows of chemical plants and refineries. Because many of these facilities are also located within close proximity to schools, it’s estimated that one out of five students currently face a risk from chemical leaks, gas cloud releases, and industrial explosions.

Southeast Texas has seen six major plant explosions since March 2019.  The most recent – the January 24th explosion at Watson Grinding & Manufacturing – killed two workers, injured dozens of people living near the northwest Houston plant, and damaged hundreds of surrounding homes and businesses.

Zehl & Associates is representing the family of two children, ages 3 and 7, who were seriously hurt when their home was damaged and their ceilings collapsed on them while sleeping.

The Watson Grinding tragedy followed on the heels of catastrophic incidents at the TPC chemical plant in Port Neches,  ExxonMobil Baytown refinery, the ITC-Deer Park petrochemical storage facility outside Houston, the KMCO chemical plant in Crosby, and the ExxonMobil Olefins plant in Baytown.

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Our Undefeated Plant Explosion Lawyers have won billions –including Record-Setting Verdicts and Settlements — for thousands of workers and families in Texas, Louisiana, and across the United States following the worst plant and refinery explosions in recent history.

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