Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Today is the LAST DAY of this Mid-Year Campaign. This is our hour of need.
If you value independent journalism, please support Common Dreams.

TODAY is the last day to meet our goal -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year.

Immediately upon being exposed to the fumes from the explosion, and one by one, the police officers and first responders began to fall ill in the middle of the road

"Immediately upon being exposed to the fumes from the explosion, and one by one, the police officers and first responders began to fall ill in the middle of the road," the lawsuit claims. (Photo: Kris Krüg/Flickr/cc)

First Responders Sue Texas Chemical Plant for 'Gross Negligence' After Fire and Explosions

"No one from Arkema warned of the toxic fumes in the air."

Jake Johnson

First responders filed a lawsuit Thursday against the chemical company Arkema, whose plant in Harris County, Texas caught fire as a result of flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez claimed after explosions were reported at the plant that fumes emanating from the facility were "not anything toxic" and that inhaling them was just like "standing over a burning campfire."

The seven first responders who filed suit against Arkema Thursday disagree, claiming they sustained "serious bodily injuries" after inhaling smoke from the fire while "manning an evacuation perimeter a mile and a half from the plant," Reuters reported. They claim that Arkema's "gross negligence" in preparation for Harvey and its aftermath resulted in harm to medical personnel and law enforcement.

"As a result of Arkema's failure to prepare, its employees were forced to abandon the Crosby facility on August 29, 2017, leaving behind hazardous and toxic chemicals with no supervision," the suit reads.

The plaintiffs continued:

Those chemicals required refrigeration, and the lack thereof was going to undoubtedly cause the chemicals to break down and ignite. Knowing this, and upon information and belief it having happened before at this very facility, Arkema and its safety managers and engineers nonetheless failed to adequately prepare for back-up refrigeration of those chemicals in the event of a power outage or other catastrophe—an issue that Arkema has previously been cited for by governmental authorities.

Immediately upon being exposed to the fumes from the explosion, and one by one, the police officers and first responders began to fall ill in the middle of the road. Calls for medics were made, but still no one from Arkema warned of the toxic fumes in the air. Emergency medical personnel arrived on scene, and even before exiting their vehicle, they became overcome by the fumes as well. 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.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

TODAY is the last day of our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Texas Supreme Court Allows Century-Old Abortion Ban to Take Effect

"Extremist politicians are on a crusade to force Texans into pregnancy and childbirth against their will, no matter how devastating the consequences."

Jake Johnson ·


'What's There to Even Discuss?' Omar Says Free, Universal School Meals Should Be Permanent

"We have an opportunity to prove that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people can still deliver big things. And we can feed tens of millions of hungry kids while we do it."

Jake Johnson ·


'Stark Betrayal': Biden Administration Floats New Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling

"This is the third time since November the Biden administration has announced new oil and gas leasing plans on the Friday before a holiday," said one climate advocate. "They're ashamed, and they should be."

Jake Johnson ·


As US Rolls Back Reproductive Rights, Sierra Leone Moves to Decriminalize Abortion

"I'm hopeful today's announcement gives activists in the U.S., and especially Black women given the shared history, a restored faith that change is possible and progress can be made."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Indefensible': Outrage as New Reporting Shines Light on Biden Deal With McConnell

The president has reportedly agreed to nominate an anti-abortion Republican to a lifetime judgeship. In exchange, McConnell has vowed to stop blocking two Biden picks for term-limited U.S. attorney posts.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo