Chemical explosion: Inside history of violations

BEAUMONT, Texas – The company whose plant exploded twice in balls of flames near Beaumont today has a history of complaints and violations.

The plant is owned by Houston-based TPC Group, and just last year, its facility in southeast Houston caught fire. It was a relatively small fire and no one was injured.

But site of Wednesday’s explosions in Port Neches, which produces a chemical used in synthetic rubber, does have a history with state and federal agencies. The EPA says for the past three years, the plant had a high-priority violation for substandard monitoring and control of its burn-off flare. The fine was about $72,000.

The state’s environmental regulator has also levied fines against the plant, more than $114,000 since 2014, for emission control violations.

And employee safety has been an issue. OSHA levied more than $11,000 in fines for a serious violation regarding electrical safety for workers.

Members of the public have also complained for years about dust, smoke, and odor.