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Texas Sues Shell Over Fire at Houston-Area Petrochemical Plant

The state is seeking more than $1 million.

A fire burns at a Shell chemical facility in Deer Park, Friday, May 5, 2023, east of Houston. Texas is suing Shell and is seeking more than $1 million, alleging a fire at the oil giant's Houston-area petrochemical plant damaged the environment.
A fire burns at a Shell chemical facility in Deer Park, Friday, May 5, 2023, east of Houston. Texas is suing Shell and is seeking more than $1 million, alleging a fire at the oil giant's Houston-area petrochemical plant damaged the environment.
Raquel Natalicchio/Houston Chronicle via AP

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas is suing Shell and is seeking more than $1 million, alleging a fire at the oil giant's Houston-area petrochemical plant damaged the environment.

The May 5 fire at the plant in the suburb of Deer Park resulted in nine workers being treated at and released from a hospital.

The lawsuit, filed Aug. 7 in Travis County by the Texas attorney general's office, alleges air and water contamination and violations of state laws at the plant, including those of the Clean Air Act, the Solid Waste Disposal Act and the Water Code.

A Shell spokesperson said the company is aware of the lawsuit but does not comment on pending litigation.

"The Deer Park chemicals facility remains in a recovery phase as we continue to investigate the cause of the fire and rebuild the damaged portion of the plant," Gunnell said.

The lawsuit contends that heavy black smoke contaminated the environment and that millions of gallons of water used to cool the areas and extinguish the flames were later discharged unlawfully into a lake, a stormwater pond and a wastewater treatment facility, making its way into the Houston Ship Channel.

"This is a lawsuit to enforce Texas laws enacted to safeguard the state's air resources, human health and the environment against pollution and to protect the quality of water in the state," it said.

The fire started during routine maintenance work when oils and gases ignited, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said at the time.

A fire burns at a Shell chemical facility in Deer Park, Friday, May 5, 2023 east of Houston.A fire burns at a Shell chemical facility in Deer Park, Friday, May 5, 2023 east of Houston.Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP

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