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Following the August 31, 2017, explosions and fires at the Arkema chemical plant outside of Houston, Texas, which injured over a dozen first responders, a Harris County grand jury today indicted the French chemical company Arkema in connection with the release of toxic chemicals during a fire after the Crosby plant was flooded during Hurricane Harvey last August.
The Harris County District Attorney's office alleges that CEO Richard Rowe, and plant manager Leslie Comardelle recklessly released chemicals into the air, putting residents and first responders at risk in the days after 51 inches of rain fell on the Houston area during Hurricane Harvey. In the days that followed the chemical release, residents were left in the dark about the cause of the incident or about how dangerous the situation really was.
In May 2018, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released its final investigation, finding that Arkema did not meet the industry standard for flood protection, and that first responders were put at unnecessary risk by the company's actions.
About the indictments handed down today, Kara Cook-Schultz, Toxics Director for TexPIRG Education Fund stated: "Americans expect companies that contain toxic chemicals to have a plan for emergencies. They expect them to follow basic safety standards. And they want to protect emergency personnel from chemical explosions. These indictments show that Texans will hold companies responsible for endangering the people of Houston, and for injuring dozens of first responders."
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