The lawsuit accuses ExxonMobil of violating the Texas Clean Air Act when the fire broke out, resulting in “unauthorized emissions into the atmosphere,” according to the Harris County Attorney’s Office.
The law allows the county to impose penalties of up to $25,000 per day per violation. The fire only burned for 1 day, but there may have been multiple emissions that could increase the number of violations.
The ExxonMobil Baytown fire is the fourth to occur at a petrochemical facility near Houston, Texas, this year. On March 16, another fire at ExxonMobil’s Baytown refinery spewed toxic pollutants for 8 days.
The most recent fire broke out just after 11:00 a.m. on July 31, sending large plumes of black smoke into the skies over ExxonMobil’s 3,400-acre refinery complex in Baytown, 25 miles east of Houston.
The fire caused at least 37 workers to suffer minor 1st-degree burn injuries, according to plant manager Jason Duncan. No one was hospitalized, but 66 people were sent for medical evaluation.
The source of the explosion is still under investigation, but the fire started in a part of the facility that purifies the chemical propylene.