Texas county sues chemical plant owner over fires, blasts

By REESE DUNKLIN Markets Associated Press

The county that's home to Houston has asked a state court to order safeguards and fine the owner of a chemical plant that partially exploded during Hurricane Harvey.

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In a lawsuit filed Thursday, the Harris County Attorney's Office says Arkema Inc.'s facility in Crosby violated Texas environmental laws by releasing toxic chemicals during flooding and fires, sickening responders and residents.

The county said air tests detected volatile organic compounds, which can cause cancer, more than 1 mile (1.61 kilometers) outside a 1.5-mile (2.41-kilometer) evacuation zone created before fires began.

After flooding shut off power in August, the plant couldn't cool and stabilize its organic peroxides.

Arkema lawyer Rusty Hardin issued a written statement saying the sides had been discussing a resolution and "suing a victim is never the right solution to a natural disaster."