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Petrochemical company pleads guilty for violating Clean Air Act, fined

Robert Besser
26 May 2024

BEAUMONT, Texas: A Texas petrochemical company has pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Air Act and has been fined over US$30 million for two explosions in 2019 that injured workers and forced the evacuation of thousands, the U.S. Justice Department announced.

The explosions occurred at the TPC Group plant in Port Neches, a coastal city about 100 miles from Houston, the day before Thanksgiving in 2019. The blasts evacuated over 50,000 people and released more than 11 million pounds of hazardous substances. According to the DOJ, the incidents caused over $130 million in offsite property damage and had significant impacts on human health and the environment.

"TPC Group sincerely regrets the damage and disruption caused by the November 2019 incident at our Port Neches facility," the company said in a statement. "Since the event, TPC Group has cooperated fully with all federal, state, and local investigations."

On May 20, the company entered into a plea agreement with the government, agreeing to pay over $30 million in criminal fines and civil penalties. The agreement also includes a commitment to spend approximately $80 million to enhance its risk management program and address safety issues at TPC Group's facilities in Port Neches and Houston.

"Today's guilty plea shows that businesses that choose to place profits over safeguards and legal compliance will face serious consequences," said U.S. Attorney Damien M. Diggs for the Eastern District of Texas.

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