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Better Lawsuits Through Chemistry

Several emergency personnel who responded to the definitely-not-an-explosion and fire at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, are suing the French-owned chemical manufacturer for more than $1 million, claiming plant operators minimized the dangers of entering the area. The suit argues the company should have taken better precautions against the chemicals losing refrigeration, which led to their spontaneously igniting in the early morning of August 31.

Despite past flooding events and advance notice of the impending destruction of Hurricane Harvey, Arkema “ignored the foreseeable consequences of failing to prepare,” the suit claims, leaving trailers of volatile chemicals susceptible to explosion after flooding knocked out the electricity and ability to cool the heat-sensitive compounds.

After the plant lost power and its emergency back-up generators were flooded by over six feet of water from Hurricane Harvey, workers at the plant moved containers of the organic peroxides into nine refrigerated trailers around the plant grounds. The flooding eventually began causing the trailers’ refrigeration to fail as well, and the remaining plant workers were evacuated August 29. The plant owners warned local officials that a fire and possible explosions would be “inevitable” as the refrigeration units ran out of fuel, and a 1.5-mile radius around the plant was evacuated.

While Arkema initially described the explosion as “an explosion,” local officials went to comical lengths to avoid using that word; Harris County Fire Marshal spokesdude Bob Royall said, “We’re on the same page. It’s a matter of terminology. I call it a chemical reaction and an overpressure of the container.” And some calls it a Kaiser blade, mmm-hmmm.

The lawsuit alleges that when the first trailers caught fire sometime after midnight on August 31, Arkema should have warned emergency responders to stay farther away.

“Although the explosions had occurred, no one from Arkema alerted the first responders who were manning the perimeter of the arbitrary mandatory evacuation area,” lawyers said Thursday in a press release. “Immediately upon being exposed to the fumes from the explosions, and one by one, the police officers and first responders began to fall ill in the middle of the road.”

The lawsuit says that police officers and emergency medical personnel arriving on the scene were getting sick before they even got out of their vehicles, and that when more responders came to help the first ones, they too became sick:

“Emergency personnel arrived on scene, and even before exiting their vehicle, they became overcome by the fumes as well,” the lawsuit adds. “The scene was nothing less than chaos. Police officers were doubled over vomiting, unable to breathe. Medical personnel, in their attempts to provide assistance to the officers, became overwhelmed and they too began to vomit and gasp for air.”

In addition, while some first responders were transported by ambulance, some of the police officers were unable to leave their vehicles behind because they had weapons in them, so the officers had to drive their own cars to the hospital. Expect a new reality show, “Vomiting Choking Cops With Guns,” to debut on basic cable this fall.

The suit singles out Arkema officials Richard Rowe and Richard Rennard for downplaying the potential dangers of the fumes from the fires. The two held

press conferences at which they “repeatedly denied that the chemicals were toxic or harmful in any manner,” the lawyers write. “Plaintiffs relied upon these representations and suffered serious bodily injury as a result.”

As the Washington Post notes, company officials went to great lengths to avoid using the word “toxic” to describe the burning chemicals, preferring to say the smoke was a “nontoxic irritant.”

When pressed by reporters at an Aug 31 news conference, Rich Rennard, president of Arkema’s North American operations, said “the smoke is certainly noxious.” But he added that toxicity is “a relative thing.” And he said “it’s not a chemical release that’s happening, and I want to be clear about that.”

The company’s tone was echoed by Harris County officials; Sheriff Ed Gonzales insisted the fumes were not toxic, and variously described the smoke as being like “standing over a burning campfire” and “basically like standing over a barbecue pit or something like that, where you get smoke in your eyes.” Or maybe it’s like when a lovely thing dies.

Asked at a news conference whether the smoke and ash were “more dangerous than something from a campfire or normal fire,” Arkema’s Rennard said “it’s debris that would be similar to a house fire.” Especially if the burning house manufactured volatile chemicals used in the production of plastics, countertops, and adhesives.

The lawsuit also asks the court for a restraining order to prevent Arkema from destroying any records, photos, or documents related to the chemicals’ storage and the flooding at the plant. In addition, the Houston Chronicle reports that 20 homeowners near the plant have asked to join the lawsuit, saying the residents “claimed to have seen balls of tar fall in their yards and some claimed a tar-like substance covered their roofs after the explosions.” In Texas, government officials probably call that stuff “Prosperity by-products.”

WaPo reports that the EPA is opening a separate investigation of the Arkema plant, and has ordered Arkema to

provide a detailed timeline of events and to respond within 10 days to questions about the handling of organic peroxides, which are combustible if not kept refrigerated, the amount of chemical materials, and the measures taken in advance to guard against flooding and loss of electricity.

Sounds like some folks at the EPA are still insisting on doing their jobs instead of fluffing for industry and administrator Scott Pruitt. Don’t they know that too much regulation — i.e., any regulation — is burdensome? Hope they didn’t mention climate change, or they’ll really be in trouble.

Yr Wonkette is supported by reader donations. Please click the “Donate” clicky — we promise our asks for money are merely noxious, not toxic.

[Houston Chronicle / WaPo / Business Insider]

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  • Indiepalin

    If y’all wanna see a REAL explosion, I got some industrial dynamite over there to the pickup truck.

    • Celtic_Gnome

      Would you like me to hold your beer?

  • DerrickWildcat

    Texas to sue EPA for making first responders sick.

  • Shanzgood

    Only $1M? It probably would have cost Arkema more than that to clean their shit up first so what’s the point?

    • OutOfOrbit

      thanks to you, i have no “shot” to clean up

      • Shanzgood

        But your kitchen is probably dead shiny!

        • OutOfOrbit

          i started with the vac which was full and the filters were clogged so just one room done & you just wait, i’ll get-cha for this

          • Shanzgood

            Haha! Don’t you think I’m already suffering enough for chronic lack of baconz?!

          • OutOfOrbit

            that’z not my fault

          • Shanzgood

            Yeah but it makes me cranky and you keep…saying things.

          • OutOfOrbit

            yeah but what you told me to do is malicious, throwing cold water on a hot boner like that.
            chores. BAH!
            trouble-maker

          • Shanzgood

            Save that boner for Mrs. OoO!

          • OutOfOrbit

            oh yea well sometimes is not the right times and also too, there is a upside to egocentric pleasure

          • Shanzgood

            That’s true! I’m sure Mrs. OoO has her own methods of “self-care” and I do NOT mean getting a pedicure!

          • SeeTrain65

            You kids today with your housework and your boners and your egocentric pleasure and your self-care …

          • OutOfOrbit

            if you ever decide to give it a go have an extra set of batteries handy cuz you think you’re grouchy now?!

          • Shanzgood

            I have plenty of batteries. My kids go through them like potato chips with their video game controllers.

          • OutOfOrbit

            you know what Tupperware parties are like, there are ladies-only parties like that for toys & i bet you would have fun, and benefit

          • Shanzgood

            What, does someone in your family work in the sex toy industry or something? You keep trying to sell me on this idea!

          • OutOfOrbit

            you donut know what you’re missing, honestly

          • Shanzgood

            Yes, I do. Honestly. And it’s not “missing” at all. I know exactly where it is. ;)

          • OutOfOrbit

            methinks your not doing it right

          • Shanzgood

            I know what I’m doing and what I like and don’t like already. Besides, you’re making presumptions about what I got it for in the first place. XD

          • Celtic_Gnome

            I had a friend who worked at Hustler’s catalogue center back in the 80’s taking phone orders. One guy called in and asked him to slap the phone receiver with his dick. He slapped the phone a couple of times with his hand and was rewarded with wild moaning on the other end.

          • Shanzgood

            Did he buy a referee’s whistle after that?

  • bookish
  • Kiri the Unicorn
  • Spurning Beer

    I have total confidence that the governor and legislature of Texas will address this dangerous situation and enact legislation making it a Class B felony to claim that chemicals have ever caused anything negative, with the exception of cannabinoids.

  • Scooby

    Notice the French decided to put thier dangerous chemicals in a corrupt third world country

    • OutOfOrbit

      eggsackly: yuh wanna run a dangerous, dirty chemical plant, texass is wide open

      • Creepoman

        See also: Union Carbide and Bhopal, India

        • AngelaHMejia

          my classmate’s aunt makes $64 an hour on the computer . She has been laid off for five months but last month her check was $12876 just working on the computer for a few hours. see here

          http://www.jobsstoreproductsplay

          ✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔::::da252….

    • Latverian Diplomat

      Due to some unpleasantness in the 1960s, Algeria was no longer an option.

    • Iron Monkey

      Politicians and safety inspectors available to the highest bidder, payable in dollars, Euros or gold Ameros.

  • ManchuCandidate

    Both Arkema officials are Dicks and dicks.

    And probably in an unrelated development Arkema will probably start lobbying for tort reform.

    • chazmanr

      Don’t blame them. Texas has chosen to not have zoning laws even after 15 people were killed 4 years ago when a fertilizer plant across from a school and a nursing home exploded. Don’t worry, the free market will address the issue in due time. Sure, a few hundred people might die first, but that is the price of FREEDUMB!

      • The conservative motto is “Humans are expendable. Corporations aren’t.”

  • bookish

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/epa-cheif-scott-pruitt-hurricane-irma-isnt-the-right-time-to-talk-climate-change

    Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said Thursday that Hurricane Irma is not the time to talk about climate change. “Here’s the issue,” Pruitt told CNN. “To have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm—versus helping people, or actually facing the effect of the storm—is misplaced. What we need to focus on is access to clean water, addressing these areas of Superfund activities that may cause an attack on water, these issues of access to fuel. … Those are things so important to citizens of Florida right now, and to discuss the cause and effect of these storms, there’s the… place [and time] to do that. It’s not now.” Experts have said that climate change and gradually warming temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico have made severe hurricanes like Irma more likely. Since taking charge of the EPA, Pruitt has rolled back several greenhouse-gas emission regulations and declined to say if climate change is real, while climate science data has been removed from the agency’s website.

    https://thinkprogress.org/limbaugh-to-evacuate-south-florida-after-claiming-irma-was-a-hoax-cb3fb5fb35b8/

    • jesterpunk

      “If we truly cherish our kids more than our money or our celebrities, we must give them the greatest level of protection possible and the security that is only available with a properly trained — armed — good guy.

      Under Asa’s leadership, our team of security experts will make this the best program in the world for protecting our children at school, and we will make that program available to every school in America free of charge.

      That’s a plan of action that can, and will, make a real, positive and indisputable difference in the safety of our children — starting right now.

      There’ll be time for talk and debate later. This is the time, this is the day for decisive action.

      We can’t wait for the next unspeakable crime to happen before we act. We can’t lose precious time debating legislation that won’t work. We mustn’t allow politics or personal prejudice to divide us. We must act now.

      For the sake of the safety of every child in America, I call on every parent, every teacher, every school administrator and every law enforcement officer in this country to join us in the National School Shield Program and protect our children with the only line of positive defense that’s tested and proven to work.”

      Wayne LaPierre after Newton. Oh wait we where talking about climate change not guns here, its easy to mix the 2 up when the GOP uses the same language for both.

    • Mr. Blobfish

      It’s like Republicans can only hold one thought in their head at a time. Strange.

    • Iron Monkey

      It’s always too soon or too late to talk about climate change, gun control….

    • Nockular cavity

      Oh, for fucks’ sake. He’s describing the mission of FEMA, not the EPA. Your mission is…I don’t know, is it in the agency’s name, maybe? Oh yeah, PROTECTION.

  • Ghenghis McCann

    some claimed a tar-like substance covered their roofs after the explosions

    Tar is good for waterproofing roofs, so where’s the problem?

    • Shanzgood

      It’s not the good kind of tar if it eats through your shingles or sets them on fire.

      • theblackdog

        But it’s almost fall so a self immolating roof would be a great way to keep warm*!

        *Not actually applicable to Houston as it’s pretty farking warm/hot most of the year

      • Bub, the cynical zombie

        Typical nit-pickin’ librul. Always complaining…

    • weejee

      But what about the feathers? Need some chickenhawks like Cruz and Cornyn.

    • therblig

      they were british tars

      • Querolous

        Yar Matey!

  • jesuswasablack

    Sheriff Ed Gonzales insisted the fumes were not toxic, and variously described the smoke as being like “standing over a burning campfire”
    So all sheriffs nowadays are flaming assholes, apparently?
    http://laeastside.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/cop.jpg

    • SayItWithWookies

      Yes, but completely non-toxic flaming assholes.

      • Courser_Resistance

        babby vegan assholes are probably non-toxic.

    • Stulexington

      So sheriffs are claiming to be biochemical experts now? What’s next, Huston sheriff kicking in the door of NASA to land the next shuttle?

    • GoutMachine

      Actually, the shit that comes out of a campfire is pretty damn toxic.

  • alwayspunkindrublic

    Dok, an order of french-fried potaters-one of the big-uns-is on me, if we ever meet. Mmm-hmmmm.

    • Bub, the cynical zombie

      Mebbe some o’ that potted meat, if you got any extry.

    • mailman27

      Don’t forget the mustard. Good with fries, great as stage business!

  • Latverian Diplomat

    I wish them luck; I can’t imagine Texas state law is of any help whatsoever in this.

  • chazmanr

    But zoning laws and safety regulations are antithetical to FREEDUMB-loving Texans who continue to allow explosives to be stored across the street from nursing homes and elementary schools.
    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/deadly-west-texas-fertilizer-plant-explosion-was-criminal-act-feds-n572231

    • jodyleek

      I’ve come to realize that I will not be setting foot in or doing business with many, many stupid states across this country.

    • Creepoman

      Won’t you please think of the chemicals’ freedom to fully realize their potential? Organic peroxides are people too, my friend.

    • rocktonsam

      “Wisconsin is open for business. ” -Scott walker

  • SayItWithWookies

    Oh, so when earlier news reports noted that some police officers were able to drive themselves to hospitals, it wasn’t a sign that they were so lightly affected that they didn’t need help — it was because other first responders couldn’t reach them without vomiting, so the heaving, gasping cops had to drive themselves. Nevertheless, just as a precautionary measure.

    • GoutMachine

      “I like first responders who don’t vomit” – DJT

  • Latverian Diplomat

    “When I said that being exposed to these fumes was like standing near a barbecue pit, what I meant to say was being exposed to these fumes was like roasting on a barbecue spit. It’s a minor misstatement is all.”

  • Latverian Diplomat

    If this explosion had killed someone’s cattle, I believe that the lawsuit would be a slam dunk in Texas. Seeing as it just hurt some people, well, that’s trickier.

    • Courser_Resistance

      Well people are inherently sinful and evil and cows are God’s innocent creatures, so…

      • Latverian Diplomat

        “Cows are someone’s property. Y’all don’t let us own people anymore.”

      • Iron Monkey

        Plus it isn’t legal yet to slaughter and eat humans in Texas. Working on it, though.

    • SeeTrain65

      Cows don’t make a fuss when they die. They just take it. They don’t bitch about suffering and hospital bills and lingering after-effects like us ungrateful humans.

  • BloviateMe
    • I’m a bad person for thinking that it was interesting how major hurricanes were hitting states that voted for Trump. Almost as if a message was being sent.

    • Viva La Tabula Raza

      I guess “Punish America for Electing Trump” finally made it to the top of God’s ‘to-do’ list.

      • GoutMachine

        Funny how the wingnuts who claimed that Katrina and 9/11 were God’s judgment for teh gheys are strangely silent about things when it hits the red states.

        • Magyar Has Had It Up To Here

          The floods were blamed on Houston’s lesbian mayor.

          • Ghenghis McCann

            Pat Robertson blamed the 2010 Haiti earthquake on the Haitians having overthrown their French colonial masters, in 1804. That God of his really holds on to a grudge.

          • H0mer0

            Magyar, you’re back!

          • Magyar Has Had It Up To Here

            Good to be back! Shy hates me (ALLEGEDLY!), so signing in has been a bit hit-or-miss.

          • H0mer0

            I thought there were no haters here except for the occasional visitor from Russia.

    • Nockular cavity

      Katia: Ushered directly into the Oval Office.

  • theblackdog

    Does this company actually have a frigging clue as to what they were storing and how bad things happen when they’re not stored properly?

    • weejee

      And organic peroxides should be kept in reinforced concrete structures with foil windows to release the blast pressure, not freakin’ trailers.

      • H0mer0

        what about the tin foil on the trailer window?

      • Celtic_Gnome

        There’s also a chemical that can be mixed with the peroxides that makes them non-volatile, but it also makes them worthless. Did Arkema not have these chemicals available against all best practices standards, or did they have them and gamble on the storm’s strength so they wouldn’t lose their valuable product?

    • SeeTrain65

      They kept them refrigerated, so they had to know.

      Did they do what was best? OH, HELL TO THE NO.

      Doing what’s best wasn’t best for the bottom line.

    • Celtic_Gnome

      Well, they did store them in Texas rather than France.

  • SayItWithWookies

    non-toxic irritant — that’s right up there on the oxymoron list with local news and improv comedy.

  • ariel_gee_398

    By all means, let’s lower the corporate tax rate so that corporations can make even more money as they continue to shirk their moral, if not legal, obligations and hire then very best attorneys to shield them from liability for doing so. It’s the American way.

  • Bright Bart
  • Wolf Tracker

    Just watched them take the pink flamingos to safety from Miami zoo.

    Hope the lions are that cooperative.

    • Rebel Scum with permit

      Here kitty kitty…..

  • Belasaurius

    Perfectly normal to start vomiting when you encounter bbq smoke.

    • Maybe they were cooking chitlins. Bleh!

    • SeeTrain65

      Try my uncle’s brisket. Vomiting from the smoke is just the start.

      • Bright Bart

        what’s for dessert? scream shitting?

        • SeeTrain65

          If all you’re going to do is complain, then no scream shitting for you!

    • Querolous

      BBQ smoke I can abide. Charcoal lighter fluid makes me nauseous. It sounds like this shit is lighter fluid with an extra kick.

  • “Kaiser blade”, “Vomit Choking Cops with Guns”, and “non-toxic irritant”–Dok, you win the internet today!

  • Wolf Tracker

    Arkema says it was safe but refused to release DOT records or even say what chemicals were stored there.

    EPA even refused to go in and monitor air around the burn.

    Major law suits coming.

  • Bub, the cynical zombie
  • Scooby

    I’m going to laugh watching Ted Cruz try to vote against Florida relief next week.

    • Zonath

      I find that if I delude myself into believing that every time a child laughs, Ted Cruz is punched in the face, I have a much brighter outlook on life in general. Strange phenomenon.

  • 911 First Responders say “Think of all the lawsuit fun you’ll have! We hope you have a comedian take up your cause to congress!”

  • WeaselPoo

    I expect Pruitt to refuse to release the results of the above described EPA investigation, probably arguing that to do so would reveal ‘proprietary company secrets’ that would cause material harm to Arkema if made public.
    Also those investigators will probably be obliged to investigate alternative emplyment options.

  • Bub, the cynical zombie
    • I expect TRUMP to sell us off CHEAP at fire/water damage sale before resigning to play MOAR golf.

      • Creepoman

        Please Canada, you can do this! Pony up enough for a down payment, convince your Scandinavian herring and hockey loving brethren to co-sign, and this fixer-upper is all yours!

    • Proud Liberal

      The future doesn’t look so bright.

      • H0mer0

        ISWYDT

  • Wolf Tracker

    IRMA still at 150 mph. Not slowing significantly and that is still cat 4.

    That may even go back to cat 5 as it hits the warmest water near the coast.

    Fucking Irma is going to do serious damage.

    • Proud Liberal

      And this also.

      “A massive magnitude-8.1 earthquake has hit off Mexico’s southern coast, toppling houses in Chiapas state, causing at least 32 deaths and setting off a tsunami warning, officials said.”

      http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-08/mexico-earthquake-shakes-capital,-leaving-at-least-32-dead/8886676

      • Wolf Tracker

        Oh shit!

        • Proud Liberal

          Something weird is going on!

          • Wolf Tracker

            Perfect storm conditions but the earthquake at same time is a really fucked up coincidence.

          • Proud Liberal

            And it’s all happening on this continent. I guess Mother Earth has had enough of our bullshit.

      • natoslug

        Let’s just hold off on the west coast mega-quake that is supposed to murderkill all of us hanging out here on the fault lines for a few more decades, mmmkay?

        • Shanzgood

          New Madrid fault is way overdue.

          • natoslug

            Maybe having everything here crack open and slide westward a mile or so will create a reasonably sized tsunami to put out the wildfires. In Montana.

  • shivaskeeper

    The chemical reaction bit. That was the best.

    Did you know a fire is a chemical reaction? Not many people know that. More and more people are learning that all the time. Anyway, an explosion is just a really, really fast fire. So this is essentially the same as having a marshmallow roast in your yard on a summer night.

    Just a really fast marshmallow roast.

    • Creepoman

      With toxic marshmallows.

      • shivaskeeper

        Only if you get them in the smoke. Otherwise it’s all good.

    • WeaselPoo

      And vomit is just food you can save for later.

      • Rebel Scum with permit

        Your dog would second that.

      • shivaskeeper

        Now you get it. It’s all in the wording.

        However I would label the vomit as predigested food for people on the go who’s busy lifestyles don’t allow time for full digestion.

        • Shanzgood

          Now I’m remembering the SNL skit about a restaurant called Pre-Chewed Charlie’s.

          http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xas2fz

          • shivaskeeper

            That one is new to me.

          • Shanzgood

            I watched it when it originally aired! Yikes!

          • shivaskeeper

            I’m an old also, too. SNL was hit or miss for me and I never really watched it regularly/

          • SeeTrain65

            Damn. That ages us both.

          • Erala Contratista

            And Wierd Al’s tune with the line “I gotta pay someone to chew my food”…

          • Shanzgood

            I don’t know that one!

          • Erala Contratista

            “This Is The Life”…strangely on point.
            Same album has “I Want A New Duck” and my favorite “Dare To Be Stupid”, which is great to sing along to…..loudly.

        • Rebel Scum with permit

          I would expect it to catch on as a meal on the go in Silicon Valley, since they’re actually marketing Soylent, for busy aspiring millionaires.

          • shivaskeeper

            Also was not paying attention to that. Why not. I’m a marketing genius. All credit to me if this catches on.

        • Mysterious Masked Wrestler

          “They didn’t vomit, they un-ate”.

          • shivaskeeper

            Acceptable description, but I don’t know how that will play in the marketing department.

  • Zonath

    See, what Texas really needs now is tort reform.

    …I’ll show myself the door.

  • Seriously?

    “I don’t know why y’all are so bent out of shape! It was just a thermal event followed by spontaneous rapid disassembly and oxidation of organic compounds.”

    -Harris County Fire Marshal spokesdude

    • Rebel Scum with permit

      Fire Marshals are not usually the people saying “Move along, nuthin to see here”. They’re usually the ones yelling “Everybody out of the pool!”. Texas is just different.

      • natoslug

        Ya drop one deuce in a pool, and suddenly yer a pariah . . .

        • Rebel Scum with permit

          Where I grew up, that could also be about a boy getting “fresh” (now that’s an expression you don’t hear anymore)

    • Ghenghis McCann

      ‘Those sound like Science Wurdz! He’s a witch, burn him.’

      • Seriously?

        20 years in the auto industry– seen some creative terminology… :)

        • Ghenghis McCann

          ‘suffered a catastrophic structural disassembly’. Or as some people might say, ‘It blew up.’

    • Nockular cavity

      “It’s just the waste matter impacting the air motion device, no biggie.”

    • Anna Rompage

      These folks just need to take some powerful antioxidants to purge the free radicals in their bodies, and get over it…

  • Viktor

    Scott Pruitt is the non animated version of Mr. Burns

    • SeeTrain65

      Pruitt aspires to be Mr. Burns, but Burns sometimes has moments of grace.

      Pruitt, not so much.

  • Anna Rompage

    It’s not anything more harmful than the smoke from a camp fire, a raging 3 alarm camp fire that was built on top of the filled in Love Canal that is…

  • Resistance Fighter Callyson

    Say, you know what else was a chemical reaction and an overpressure of the container?

    • Lance Thrustwell

      The time my homebrew carboy exploded?

    • That time my little nephew made poopsy all over my car seats?

    • SeeTrain65

      Steve Bannon’s last coke jag?

      • therblig

        steve bannon’s last cock gag, you say?

        • SeeTrain65

          Yes. … Yes, I did.

    • P’jama Pahnts

      Donald junior’s fetus?

    • jodyleek

      That time in college when I got so very drunk, stumbled through the attendants of the floor meeting and barfed in the aluminum can collection bin, in front of god and everyone?

      • H0mer0

        so much “win” in that story.

    • Pat_Pending

      Last week’s burrito al pastor?

    • calliecallie

      Mentos and Diet Coke?

    • Bright Bart

      sharknado.

    • GHERKINS OF RESTIVENESS!
      • xbutter

        Ewww Gross. Someone should clue Trump in that the time to shart out his policy initiatives is NOT when wearing white pants and no Depends on the golf course.

    • Mysterious Masked Wrestler

      Godzilla, obviously.

  • Fartknocker

    This preventable event is driving me bat shit crazy because the HCFM has a fire code and it grants them authority to obtain the information they need – and – to require, review and approve the plan for an unauthorized release of a hazmat.

    I did some research on what exactly was being stored based on about 15 minutes of searching Arkema’s website, which for all of their homeland security dribble, does make it easy to find which plant supplies certain products, namely cumene hydroperoxide. This is an intermediate chemical and so it can be safely stored and handled, it requires isopropyl benzene to stabilize it. If you lose the isopropyl benzene, the reaction goes exothermic, it happens fast, and you get lots and lots of benzene and other nasty combustion products.

    I’m not going to beat up or berate the Harris County FM because they regulate a lot of Grade A Category 3 shit show of hazmats on a normal, sunny day. However, it would have been prudent to bump Arkema to the top of the list of places to receive unannounced and announced inspections and continued assessment of the hazards and changes to the processes.

    • jodyleek

      Unannounced inspections? What are you, some sorta commie? I doubt they made announced inspections, let alone unannounced.

    • Unmutual Tetsu Kaba

      I read somewhere that they had refused to let the fire marshals inspect the plant, which would be illegal most sensible places.

  • capnkrunch

    Anyone else notice that Arkema still hasn’t said specifically what chemicals it was producing and storing? That would resolve the question of toxicity very quickly, which leads me to believe everyone is full of shit and that smoke was full of toxins.

    • H0mer0

      smoke is full of toxins anyway. Even vapor e-cigs release toxins.

      • capnkrunch

        Good point. When the Arkema official said “it’s debris that would be similar to a house fire,” I thought “that’s actually way worse than it seems.” Smoke from house fires is actually incredibly toxic and dangerous.

        • Skwerl the Nazi Puncher

          At least most houses have asbestos.

        • Unmutual Tetsu Kaba

          Which is why firefighters now wash their turnout gear between fires instead of keeping them grungy as a sign of experience and why they wear Airpacs. Also, too firefighters have a higher than average incidence of cancers.

    • Skwerl the Nazi Puncher

      As they change the manifests to read dihydrogenoxide.

    • Incoming Ham

      I am not sure they have to.

  • Ωbjectifier

    Rapid oxidation and overpressure with evolutions of heat and light. Not an explosion, no siree, bub.

    • jodyleek

      The containers didn’t explode. They were pining for the fjords.

      • Butch

        They have joined the choir invisible.

  • Rick Hill

    Well. a lot of concern for nothing as I’m sure that Texas already anticipated this and will not allow the chemical company to be sued. Whew! Kind of worried that shareholders may have taken a hit, for second there.

    • H0mer0

      probably Arkema got promised some liability protection to build their plant and bring jobs to Tejas.

      • Rick Hill

        If not an actual law preventing it.

        • H0mer0

          “We are a nation of laws!”*
          *when it benefits the rich and powerful

    • Panika MCD

      we did anticipate it. that’s why SJRA got a new board, but it turns out that new board sucks as much as the last one.

  • Anna Rompage

    Something in my gut tells me that Arkema’s plant is going to be the next Federally funded Super Fund site, and that us taxpayers will be paying to clean up because of the lack of regulations in Texas.

    Not to mention the company will just declare bankruptcy and spin that division off, like so many of their predecessors have done in the past, leaving the financial burden of clean up on all of our hands.

    Socialism is fine when it’s cleaning up toxic messes, and bailing out billionaires, but bad when it’s used for treating the ailments & health issues caused by such toxic compounds

    • Rick Hill

      “Super Fund site, that us taxpayers will be paying to clean up”

      Mehbee in a country with a real government. trump will review the need, decide it doesn’t have political payoff for him and shift funds from site clean up to his golf course maintenance. Hey, it’s hazardous with all those lawn chemicals so it works, right?

    • Pilotshark

      the way it looks, most of the coast of Texas can now be a toxic super fund site, as many chemical and refiners around. and you know this one is not the only one, it maybe the only one we know of now.

    • Panika MCD

      this is really SJRA’s fault. see above.

      • kbbaldwin2

        Nonsense! It is clear that Obama’s hands are in this up to his elboxs!

    • Pazuzu75

      Of course, conservatives love themselves some socialism when socializing something benefits them. The conservative wetdream is to socialize all their risks and responsibilities while privatizing profit and reward.

    • stubbornirishlass

      “Privatize the profits, socialize the losses.” Credit to Randi Rhodes.

      Edit: (And apologies to Pazuzu75. When will I learn to stop jumping the gun?)

  • Mateo

    Figures there was a fuck-up. Two Dicks were in charge.

  • Skwerl the Nazi Puncher

    That wasn’t a fart. It was an audible liberation of non-noxious particulates.

  • Panika MCD

    Texplainer: OOOOH, OOOH! PICK ME!

    this is all going to end up being the San Jacinto River Authority’s fault. you see, they are supposed to manage the San Jacinto River which runs through Crosby. they went through Sunset last year because they finally decided that the river authorities really should go through Sunset. during those hearings there was testimony indicating that SJRA had abdicated its duty by giving control of their dams to local governments who would, “OMG, the water is rising 2 inches! RELEASE THE DAMS!” which would create a domino effect all the way downstream and flood Houston and various areas on the river on the back end. this is part of the reason the Houston floods in 2015 and 2016 were so fucking bad.

    Sunset Commission recommended that the SJRA board be swept (basically giving them a whole new board) and that statute for RAs be updated to required coordination of dam releases. you would think that would be the end of that and companies and communities on the San Jacinto could breath easy, right?

    OH, HELL NO. the new board never took control of those dams away from the local communities and the Conroe Dam was released without telling anyone–unlike the Addicks and Barker Dam releases which were coordinated, people had forewarning and were done in phases so that the water could drain. therefore, the communities on the San Jacinto what didn’t expect 4 feet of extra water got that water. since Crosby is on that path, they got 4 feet of extra water.

    I’m not saying Arkema is a good corporate citizen by any means. I’m just saying that SJRA sucks monkey balls.

    • h4rr4r

      It is legal in Texas to do that?
      There are no laws against this?

      • Panika MCD

        there’s a law that says it’s no longer legal, but most laws don’t go into effect until 9/1 of the year they were passed. I don’t know if they’ll be held liable or not. I hope they will so that all the RAs can start being better agencies. the LCRA (my local RA) would not ever dream of letting anyone near their dams.

    • JustDon’tSayDignity

      Arkema should have had an emergency backup where they basically put the chemicals into a reaction with some other reagent that creates a non-volatile substance. THAT is supposed to be the last resort, NOT fucking “run away”.

      But that costs money, and no one made them build those backups.

      • Panika MCD

        but I think their emergency backup plan assumed that the SJRA problem had been solved.

        • JustDon’tSayDignity

          Probably true (though that sounds like a bad assumption on their part), but:
          Assuming the backup generators would always be online was the mistake. The flood was just one of many things that could have made the temperature control fail. They had no backup for temperature control failure. They shouldn’t have been allowed to stop there in their response plan.

          • Panika MCD

            well, the state assumed that a new board would read through all the fine print INCLUDING the new law about coordinating dam releases. Rep. Huberty is fucking PISSED. he wants heads on pikes. I know he’s a Republican, but he opposes things like school vouchers and bathroom bills, so he’s alright. he also totally wins the Colonel Sanders lookalike contest every Friday during the regular session.

          • JustDon’tSayDignity

            Just getting caught up after a non-Wonkette weekend. Does Huberty put “I say” in the middle of his sentences, like Foghorn Leghorn? “I am pissed, I say, PISSED OFF that y’all fucked up the dam releases.”

          • Panika MCD

            no. he’s actually a pretty good guy. killed school vouchers like 80 times this year. he does win the Col. Sanders look alike contest almost every week. but the one that has the Foghorn Leghorn impression is Bettencourt–which is suicide inducing–and Bettencourt is THE FUCKING WORST.

      • Toledo Window Box

        And nobody’s gonna make them pay for harming others. It’s the Texas way.

  • exinkwretch

    Geez, a few pussy first responders get a runny nose and we’re supposed to ruin the profit margin of a French conglomerate? How’s that fair?

  • JustDon’tSayDignity

    All I can say is “only a million dollars?” That lawsuit is missing at least one zero.

  • GHERKINS OF RESTIVENESS!

    Well, sure, that was inartfully stated. We can agree there are more cromulent words to describe the doubleplus ungood of some oversize tupperware containers getting a little warm and letting off a little bit of alternative steam-that-isn’t-recommended-for-breathing.

    • HooverVilles

      I think Trump will be asking you if you can be his new WH press-critter.

      • sarafina

        Gherkins seems like a shoo-in!!

  • Celtic_Gnome

    I have been enveloped in campfire smoke when the wind shifted. It’s perfectly natural to collapse and vomit. Same thing happened to Prometheus when he stole the fire and gave it to mankind.

    • Vacuous Virgina

      Prometheus was a pyromaniac 😝

  • The Librarian

    🎶Smoke gets in your eyes🎶 And then you vomit. Seems legit. :P

  • gratuitous

    Let me write Arkema’s defense for them: Sure, a lot of those show-off first responders got sick, but there’s no medical evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that their sickness was due solely to anything in the air they may or may not have breathed in. Maybe they all had bad clams for dinner. You don’t know that they didn’t, so there! Arkema is vindicated forever.

    Now, about getting reimbursement for our company’s losses . . .

    • kbbaldwin2

      Well,if they can establish that any of the responders had canned clams for dinner, their defense will be a slam-dunk.

  • NotDarkYet

    Pop quiz.

    Which of the following statements would you expect to hear from a TX chemical company?

    a. Regulations are over-burdensome.
    b. Breathing is optional.
    c. Toxicity is a relative thing.
    d. In order to serve you better, we quit serving you altogether.

    • RMKH

      Of course, the answer is AOT,K

      • HooverVilles

        EGG-SACTLY

    • Suttree

      e. Fuck you! You are paying for our tax break.

  • Ωbjectifier

    When danger reared its ugly head
    Arkema turned its tail and fled
    And bravely ran away

    • ez

      The dirty rotten stinkin’ Frogs,
      left those cops to breath their Smog.

  • whitroth

    Can’t we transport the head honchos to the site, where, without breathing gear, they can explain how it’s perfectly safe?

    Oh, and IIRC, my late ex, the rocket engineer (for real) used to say that it’s not the bang, it’s the overpressure that does the damage.

  • georgiaburning

    The affected officers will soon see the adjusted cost of the chemicals they were breathing deducted from their pay. Of course they will get a 10% law enforcement discount. Meanwhile, a new Texas state law will give chemical plants an automatic property tax credit for each ton discharged into the atmosphere. After all, it is lost property, right?

    • JohnC44

      Decent piece of change…when I was buying impact resistant acrylic resin from Arkema I paid about $1.50/lb on 3 million or so lbs/yr. We we’re pretty much small fry at that volume, but had a fair number of loads come up directly from the processing facilities in Texas, the location of which escapes me, but wasn’t Houston. Safe to say quite a bit of TCAP goes into that, especially the impact resistant varieties. So let’s just say TCAP makes up 10% of the cost we paid (at the time), you’re looking at $0.15/lb or so…this group is gonna have some ‘splainin to do.

  • Bad Scooter

    “…come to find out I don’t think my mother minded what Jesse was a-doin’ to her. Mhm.”

    I hope the EPA takes their proverbial sling blade to Harris County Officials (mother) and Arkema (Jesse).

  • Toledo Window Box

    You vote for Republicans, you’re gonna get exactly this, Texans – and the rest of America should listen up.

    • SDGeoff3

      I don’t believe this would bother any Texan who would be inclined to vote for Republicans.

      • sarafina

        A lot of Texans don’t live near those plants, after all. And most Texans are not First Responders.

        (This is both horrifying and the company speeches total horseshit.)

        • LosFelizGuy

          Most first responders vote republican and republican voters loooooove to make martyrs of first responders and the military. But they seem to lack the ability to process the fact that sometimes regulations would make their loved ones jobs–and their own– safer. They also seem to think shopping at WalMart means “buyin’ merican!” So there’s that.

  • tehbaddr

    They didn’t build that! Wait wut?

  • Hemp Dogbane

    Vomiting is a “relative thing” too, says everyone who ever threw up in their mouth a little.

  • Lyly Sirivong

    Standing over a barbecue pit ? Like this ?
    https://media.giphy.com/media/uPZxbJC8vnJcI/giphy.gif

    I hope it was just a temporary sickness and not something more serious.

  • Jay Silversmith

    Scott Pruitt says “pay no attention to those flaming tar balls falling on your yard and children.”

    • WhoCheckedRussia’sVoterID

      Because at this time, with Harvey and now Irma, then Jose (fucking mexicans!), this is just a really inappropriate time to bring up the fact that we as an administration have every intent to skull fuck the shit out of america and bringing up that bad shit we are doing, frankly, harshes my mellow.

    • cats530

      And do your patriotic duty by eating seafood out of the gulf, especially after this latest catastrophe.

  • WhoCheckedRussia’sVoterID

    Like…wow. Just right in your face ass covering lying. No concern for human life at all. I’m thinking perhaps that this company needs to be sued so hard that their distant descendants will have to declare bankruptcy…

  • pd1648

    “You know where they are if you drive around,” Abbott told reporters Tuesday. “You can ask every facility whether or not they have chemicals or not. You can ask them if they do, and they can tell you, well, we do have chemicals or we don’t have chemicals, and if they do, they tell which ones they have.” Texas Tribune

    This is what Greg Abbott had to say after the West comma Texas plant blew up, killing and injuring first responders and destroying nearly every structure near it.

    That is correct. Our state would never lay the onerous burden of reporting the contents of there plants. Not even to save the lives of first responders.

    And now the process of Texifying the whole country, which W began, is nearly accomplished.

    I am a sixth-generation. Members of 2 of those generations of teachers and clergy were killed by Commanches. Something about being on someone else’s turf, is my guess.

    I’m done being “Texas Tough”. I always hated that crap, and we’re out of here within the year.

    Unfortunately, the whole country will be Texas if our government keeps to its present course.

    • Boss Dave

      It’s like Abbott really believes there’s a law where if you die from cancer in the state, the cause of death on the death certificate must read “Not Texas Tough Enough”.

  • 1PeterG1

    You probably shouldn’t be a first responder if you don’t know how to respond. They have a pretty good fire school down in Houston. Not unlike the one I went to in Lambton County where they teach you how to respond to chemical fires. I guess they didn’t have any graduates available. Apparently no one knew you are supposed to know which way the wind is blowing or wear PPE like a respirator. This kind reminds me of the help offered by the US Navy to Japan after the nuclear meltdown. We’re here to help. Now who can we sue? Maybe they should start calling them first suers.

    • Yes. It is their fault for being told by the chemical plant that it was not dangerous.
      All their fault.
      Hey, pete, got some ocean front in Florida to sell you!

      • 1PeterG1

        They were only told exactly what they were dealing with, extremely volatile chemicals whose explosive nature is related to temperature. Which was being monitored in real time. This tells you when an explosive situation can occur but does not tell you when it will occur. The author of this piece is obviously not familiar with technology so I would excuse his not knowing the difference between an explosion and the vented gases from the mandatory relief valves with which all such vessels must be equipped.

        Frankly these responders obviously had no clue what they were doing. Otherwise they would know not to position themselves downwind from any potential chemical release and they should have been wearing respirators and other protective equipment. Since this site specializes in snark and sarcasm I will use that. What the fuck were the police doing at this scene? Were they going to taze the imminent explosion? Or were they just going to shoot it to if the smoke was black? Hmm. The police don’t have the equipment to respond to such a situation. You know who should have known that? The firefighters should have known that. I don’t really think firefighters should rely on home or business owners to tell them which way the wind is blowing either. My advice? Get better first responders.

        • Jack McKenzie

          Regulations = evil.

          • 1PeterG1

            No. Regulations are awesome. I recommend reading the ASME Boiler and Pressure vessel code, if you have a few years, which governs design criteria in this neck of the world. And that one too. Which is why this plant was designed to those standards as all such facilities must be. Pay attention to chapter seven, as it is the really important part. There is an unfortunate tendency of those on the left, where I reside politically, to say things out of ignorance that make knowledgeable people wince.

            You’d be surprised how many lefties think they managed to build ninety percent of the Dakota Access pipeline without Obama noticing instead of it having his blessing. I miss that man.

    • I AM R U

      Nah, they were told the chemicals were a nontoxic irritant, and that they were sufficiently distance to avoid any spillage of said chemicals. The fact that this was bullshit is entirely the fault of the company, that mislead and actively lied, in an effort to avoid liability or a drop in share price.

      • 1PeterG1

        Which chemicals? The ones in the vessels or the products of decomposition. It is pretty clear to me that no one here and probabably not thefirst responders knows the difference between those two things. The popping sounds that were heard are almost certainly pressure relief valves doing what they do which is release gas and once it reaches the set pressure of the valve. This may or may not combust. Or it may be the products of decomposition. These are organic peroxides and they don’t need to mix with air to deflagrate. The company told them exactly what was in the vessels. They evacuated all their personnel because there was nothing any human could do about preventing the temperature from rising.

        The firefighters should have been wearing proper equipment and the police shouldn’t have been there at all. We’ve spent years educating workers on WHMIS. And you can look up the neccessary information regarding any chemical virtually instantly. Firefighters trained in responding to fires are supposed to know this shit. They didn’t. If anybody should be suing anybody the police should be suing the firefighters for negligence. They did not know what they were doing.

        • cats530

          Then again maybe the firefighters are hamstrung by GOP politics/politicians. Those at the top of the political chain don’t have a disaster plan (or drills) in place in the event of an occurrence. As demonstrated once again by their actions, The GOP doesn’t give a damn about the common people. Corporate profits are all they care about.

          • 1PeterG1

            That’s the ticket my friend. That’s what I would be looking at. Why were these responders not trained to respond properly? But I wouldn’t be so quick to blame just the Republicans. Things that cost money but don’t get your picture in the paper have little political appeal. There’s just as much busted infrastructure in Red states as Blue states because funding maintenance isn’t politically sexy and easily kicked down the road to become someone else’s problem. That’s why there’s so damned much of it to be fixed.

            Training people properly to do difficult jobs is expensive. We see this in police forces all the time. Why would firefighters be any different?

    • cats530

      Absolutely! I showed this article to my husband who is 15 year veteran FF. The mentality of the red states is to blame. We don’t need no stinkin’ regyoolations on chemical plants in Texas. We don’t need no stinkin’ regyoolations on the fire department or a disaster plan in place. Stinkin’ libtard ideas is all that is!

  • CovfefeOfTheThoughtlessMind

    Nice Platters ref, Dok.

  • JohnW

    Maybe, just maybe, there could be state or federal regulations that companies with toxic/dangerous chemicals should be required to tell first responders what types of hazardous materials are on site. Oh wait, it’s republican led Texas where we don’t need no stinking’ badges (or regulations). Free enterprise and self monitoring will work better than government overreach.

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