TPC Port Neches Cited for Illegal Butadiene Release in 2018
A year before two massive explosions and fire destroyed the TPC Group’s petrochemical plant in Port Neches, Texas, state regulators cited the facility for the illegal release of butadiene – the same cancer-causing chemical that burned during last month’s days-long disaster.
According to Environment Texas, TPC Port Neches reported a single unauthorized release of 14,881 pounds of butadiene in 2018, the third highest in the state that year.
Butadiene is a colorless, highly-flammable gas used to manufacture synthetic rubber, resins and an octane-boosting component of gasoline. In addition to being a known carcinogen, exposure to butadiene may also cause dizziness, nausea, headaches, irritated eyes and throat.
5 Southeast Texas Plants Among Top State Polluters
The TPC Port Neches plant is one of five southeast Texas facilities mentioned by name in Environment Texas’ report of the state’s top polluters. The report ranks facilities by unauthorized emissions, as well as emitters of specific chemicals.
Other southeast Texas plants listed as top emitters of butadiene include BASF Total’s Olefins Complex in Port Arthur, with 8,731 pounds released, and Exxon Mobil’s Beaumont chemical plant, with 3,525 pounds released.
“Texans are sick and tired of oil refineries and petrochemical plants catching fire, exploding, and pumping out harmful pollution,” Catherine Fraser, Clean Air Associate with Environment Texas Research and Policy Center, said in a statement announcing the report’s release. “And the data show the problem is getting worse, not better. We need our state leaders to crack down on illegal pollution, and stop putting the interests of polluters over the rest of us.”
Port Neches Plant Explosion Injured 3, Forced Mass Evacuations
Texas environmental officials have yet to disclose how much butadiene was released during the TPC Port Neches explosion and fire.
The November 27th disaster sent three workers to the hospital and forced more than 60,000 people in Groves, Nederland, Central Gardens, Beauxart Gardens and parts of Port Arthur to evacuate their homes through Thanksgiving Day.The shock wave created by the initial explosion blew out windows and damaged buildings as far away as Port Arthur.
While residents were allowed to return home that Friday, they were warned not touch the charred and potentially toxic debris that littered most of the yards and streets around Port Neches.
A voluntary evacuation was ordered for Port Neches on December 4th, when air monitors detected excessive levels of butadiene coming from the TPC plant. That order was lifted the next day, after crews were able to contain the leak.
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