Texas Petrochemical Company Fined $30M for Clean Air Act Violation

May 22, 2024
November 2019 explosions prompted evacuations and released millions of pounds of extremely hazardous substances.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice jointly announced a Texas petrochemical company has pleaded guilty to a violation of the Clean Air Act and agreed to pay more than $30 million in connection with two explosions that injured workers and caused the evacuation of thousands.

The explosions at a TPC Group plant in the coastal city of Port Neches, Texas, on Nov. 27, 2019, prompted the evacuation of more than 50,000 people from the area.

According to a news release from the EPA, the explosions released more than 11 million pounds of hazardous substances and caused more than $130 million in offsite property damage and risk to human health and the environment. Four employees and one contractor suffered injuries.

TPC Group’s facility produced the hazardous chemical Butadiene, which is used in the production of tires, latexes and plastics. Butadiene can form a “popcorn polymer,” which can grow at an accelerating rate and cause catastrophic events, including explosions and fires. The company was aware that this polymer was forming in some of its production lines, and the risks it posed, but failed to take necessary measures to prevent the explosion, said the EPA. 

TPC Group agreed to pay over $30 million in criminal fines and civil penalties. The plan also includes spending about $80 million to improve its risk management program and safety issues at TPC Group’s Port Neches and Houston facilities.

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