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When disaster strikes, our initial panicked thoughts are first and foremost making sure our homes and loved ones are safe. It’s not until later that we might start to wonder about the dangerous aftermath that could ensue. One example of this scenario includes chemical accidents and emissions that are released after a catastrophe. While the situation is certainly serious and incredibly dangerous, the true nature of the potential for long term issues isn’t often considered enough. In light of a recent Hurricane Harvey lawsuit, a federal judge has decided to take action and has ordered the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board to provide more information on chemical dangers and emissions that result from accidents.
The recent lawsuit arose due to explosions that took place at the Arkema Chemical plant in Houston, caused by Hurricane Harvey. The explosions led to a mandatory 1.5-mile evacuation after toxic fumes filled the air. First responders arrived at the scene ready to help and were not warned of the radiating hazardous emissions. The first responders exited their vehicles and immediately experienced sickness, vomiting, shortness of breath, and were gasping for air after inhaling the dangerous fumes.
This type of danger is unfortunately not the first to take place in the Lone Star State. Texas has a history of chemical accidents, perhaps the most notorious in recent years being the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. While the Clean Air Act requires the Chemical Safety Board to investigate fires, explosions, or leaks, there is no regulation in place that requires the disclosure of these accidents, making it that much more difficult to learn from and prevent similar incidents in the future.
The federal judge’s ruling will help communities become more knowledgeable about industrial accidents, as companies will be required to report the details behind any accidents. These reports will then be available to the public from a single reliable source.
Chemical explosions or accidents are extremely dangerous and potentially deadly. Agencies, plant owners, and managers have an obligation to protect workers and warn surrounding communities of harm when disaster strikes. If you or a loved one has experienced a chemical plant work injury or illness, contact us today. The workplace injury attorneys at Adame Garza LLP will carefully evaluate your case and flight for the justice you deserve.