AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a petition Tuesday hours after an explosion at a chemical plant near Houston left one dead, according to a press release from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
The chemical isobutylene exploded at the KMCO plant in Crosby late Tuesday morning and it took officials about six hours to extinguish the blaze after a transfer line ignited and a tank caught fire, according to reports by KPRC the NBC affiliate in Houston.
According to an investigation from KPRC, the company KMCO owed a series of OSHA fines before and after the ownership change of the facility in 2012. The investigation found that KMCO paid $247,932 in fines to settle various safety violations.
KMCO issued the following statement addressing the issues:
KMCO, LLC acquired the Crosby facility in 2012. Therefore, KMCO, LLC did not own or operate the Crosby facility and is not responsible for any historic incidents or violations that occurred prior to 2012. After the acquisition, KMCO, LLC‘s new owners and new management team dramatically accelerated the process of transforming the company by investing tens of millions in new capital and re-investing ongoing profits in people, processes, policies, and facility upgrades to safeguard our employees and the community, as well as the integrity and sustainability of our business. We will work with authorities to investigate today’s incident thoroughly to prevent it from ever happening again. And with the help of our dedicated team, we will continue our mission of transforming KMCO into a next-generation, best-practice operator that meets and even exceeds the expectations of our customers, employees, surrounding communities, regulators and the industry at large.
Paxton’s injunctive relief petition against KMCO was filed in the District Court of Travis County on behalf of the TCEQ for Texas Clean Air Act violations.
The State of Texas requested the court to grant a permanent injunction, civil penalties, and reasonable attorney fees, court costs and investigative costs.
TCEQ Executive Director Toby Baker offered condolences to the families and victims of the explosion and fire in a statement.
“I applaud the attorney general for acting swiftly on my requests to hold KMCO fully responsible,” he said.
Family members of 27-year-old James Earl Mangum, nicknamed “Bubba,” confirmed to KPRC that he had been killed in the explosion. Two other people were critically injured.