ExxonMobil fire; Baytown plant; Baytown plant explosion

BAYTOWN, Texas — Harris County is suing ExxonMobil for the explosion and fire that happened in Baytown Wednesday.

The lawsuit claims that the company violated the Texas Clean Air Act and the fire caused the emission of multiple air pollutants, including propylene, LPG, propane and associated products of combustion.   

The purpose of the Texas Clear Air Act is to “safeguard the State’s air resources from pollution by controlling or abating air pollution and emissions of air contaminants, consistent with the protection of public health, general welfare, and physical property…,” according to court documents.

Harris County has also filed for a temporary restraining order and a temporary injunction ordering ExxonMobil to comply with the Texas Clean Air Act, Texas Water Code and Texas Administrative Code.

READ: What we know about the ExxonMobil Olefins plant in Baytown

A unit that produces polypropylene exploded Wednesday at approximately 11:07 a.m. The explosion caused a fire that lasted for more than 20 hours.

The plant’s Industrial Hygiene staff monitored the air quality and concluded there were no harmful levels detected.

According to a report it filed with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the fire released benzene, carbon monoxide and dozens of other chemicals into the air. The company has publicly said the fire burned propane and propylene, which are included on the list of 27 air contaminates at the fire site.

Sixty-six people sought a medical evaluation at the Houston Area Safety Council. There was some first aid treatment but all of them were released and cleared to return to work, ExxonMobil said.

READ: ‘We felt the shake. We felt it.’ | ExxonMobil explosion strikes fear in nearby community

Thirty-seven people were treated for non-life threatening injuries, including first-degree burns, according to the plant manager.

“We deeply regret any disruption or inconvenience that this incident may have caused the community,” ExxonMobil tweeted.

The cause of the explosion is still under investigation. 

KHOU 11 Investigates looked into ExxonMobil Baytown Complex and found TCEQ fined the plant 22 times in the last decade, resulting in nearly $1 million in penalties.

READ: ExxonMobil’s Baytown plant has history of environmental violations

A half million of that stems from a single incident in 2009 in which, according to documents, the plant failed to prevent unauthorized emissions from a number of its units.

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