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First Responders Sickened by Toxic Fumes Sue Chemical Plant

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A group of Texas first responders filed suit against chemical company Arkema Thursday, alleging the company did not adequately warn them of the risks of chemical exposure while they attended to a plant fire outside of Houston last week.

In the suit, the seven plaintiffs say they were "overwhelmed" by vomiting after coming in contact with fumes at the plant, describing a scene "nothing less than chaos."


The suit also accuses the company of failing to properly secure chemical facilities after Hurricane Harvey. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) separately ordered Arkema to provide details of the explosion last week, which was caused by flood-related power outages that cut off refrigeration for the plant's chemical stores.

According to the lawsuit, "immediately upon being exposed to the fumes ... the police officers and first responders began to fall ill in the middle of the road ... Medical personnel, in their attempts to provide assistance to the officers, became overwhelmed and they too began to vomit and gasp for air."

As reported by the New York Times:

"The explosions have raised concerns over the preparedness of the country's chemical plants for bigger disasters, both natural and man-made.

Arkema identified hurricanes, flooding and power failures as risks to the site nearly a decade ago. But its own risk management plans show the company did little to address those hazards."

For a deeper dive:

New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, The Atlantic, CNBC

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