The Port Neches plant was a 'high priority,' but penalties haven't matched
Before the two explosions the day before Thanksgiving that caused the mandatory evacuation of more than 50,000 people from a four-mile radius in Port Neches, the Texas Petroleum Chemicals plant there had been "considered a high-priority violator by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for more than two years" and was "out of compliance with federal clean air laws since the agency’s last inspection in August 2017," reports the Texas Tribune's Kiah Collier.
Civil penalties for this history add up to less than $200,000, she reports, "nowhere near enough to deter a company that brings in billions of dollars a year from taking sufficient corrective actions."
“When you look at all these facilities and their compliance histories, it’s like a rap sheet,” Elena Craft, senior director for climate and health at the Environmental Defense Fund, tells Collier. “And of course we see many times these bad actors that continue to have violations and ultimately this can lead to the kind of major disasters like the explosion."
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