Harris County files lawsuit against Exxon Mobil one day after fire in Baytown injured 37


The Harris County Attorney’s Office filed a lawsuit Thursday against Exxon Mobil just one day after a unit at its Baytown plant erupted in flames injuring at least 37 people, according to a filing in the 190th District Court.

According to the lawsuit against the petrochemical giant, Harris County alleges Exxon Mobil violated the Texas Clean Air Act when its Olefins Plant released “unauthorized emissions into the atmosphere.”

The lawsuit seeks injunctions forbidding Exxon Mobil from continuing the alleged violations.

ON HOUSTONCHRONICLE.COM: ExxonMobil’s Baytown fire the latest in a string of petrochemical blazes

The injuries were minor, first-degree burns, Jason Duncan, plant manager said in a news conference hours after the explosion.

The cause of the fire, which began shortly after 11 a.m.,  is still unknown, but Exxon Mobil officials said it began in an area used to purify the chemical propylene, which is used as a fuel and in making plastics.

READ MORE: This ExxonMobil plant in Baytown has a history of environmental violations

This is the second filing by Harris County against Exxon Mobil – the other alleging environmental violations from a March fire at the Baytown facility.

Today’s lawsuit is the Harris County attorney’s office’s first use of its newfound authority to file such lawsuits without the approval of Commissioners Court.  Commissioners granted the office this power on April 30.

Michelle Iracheta is a digital reporter in Houston. Read her on our breaking news site, Chron.com, and on our subscriber site, houstonchronicle.com. | [email protected] | NEWS WHEN YOU NEED IT: Text CHRON to 77453 to receive breaking news alerts by text message | Sign up for breaking news alerts delivered to your email here.

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