At least 20 people said they got sick or hurt from the smoke

Case Alleges Chemical Companies Should Prepare For Unprecedented Storms

Canada Goose sale During Hurricane Harvey last year, a chemical plant near Houston caught fire and burned for days. Now the company that owns the plant and two of its employees are facing criminal charges. As NPR’s Rebecca Hersher reports, this case is raising big questions about who should be held responsible in the era of climate change. Canada Goose sale

REBECCA HERSHER, BYLINE: The plant made a type of chemical that bursts into flame if you don’t keep it cold. When Hurricane Harvey arrived, thousands of pounds of these chemicals were sitting in refrigerated warehouses. As heavy rain kept falling and the water kept rising, employees were desperately moving this stuff from warehouse to warehouse. The generators flooded. The forklifts flooded. They were running out of options. There was this one crazy night where they were carrying individual jugs of highly flammable chemicals through chest high water to get it to refrigerated trailers to keep it cool, but the water kept rising.

HERSHER: Five days after Harvey made landfall, Arkema’s CEO, Richard Rowe, held a press conference with reporters. He said the trailers were flooding, the temperatures were rising and the chemicals could start burning at any moment.

canada goose store RICHARD ROWE: The materials could now explode and cause a subsequent intense fire. The high water that exists on the site and the lack canada goose shop uk of power leave us with no way to prevent it. canada goose store

HERSHER: All of the trailers burned. At least 20 people said they got sick or hurt from the smoke and ash. There were multiple civil suits against the company. And that seemed like the end of it until a few weeks ago when the district attorney announced criminal charges against Rowe, the plant manager, who had been at the plant during the storm, and the company itself, which means they could go to prison.

canadian goose jacket KIM OGG: The charges are environmental. They are reckless emission of an air contaminant and endangerment of persons. canadian goose jacket

HERSHER: Kim Ogg is the Harris County district canada goose outlet store calgary attorney. To her, it’s clear that the fires happened because people at Arkema canada goose outlet las vegas ignored the risk of flooding.

Canada Goose online OGG: I support responsible companies. It’s the conscious disregard that was shown by Arkema executives in this case that has led to their indictment. Canada Goose online

HERSHER: She points out that the Arkema plant is in a flood plain, although it’s never gotten anywhere near the amount of water it got canada goose outlet black friday sale last year. Still, she says, there were signs that flood risk was increasing before Harvey in part because of climate change.

canada goose uk outlet OGG: We’ve had a new normal in canada goose jacket uk Houston. We’ve had three 500 year floods in just a short period of time. And so it was a risk that was unjustifiable. canada goose uk outlet

buy canada goose jacket cheap RUSTY HARDIN: Trying to find scapegoats and calling individuals felons are you kidding me? This is outrageous. It’s morally, legally, ethically wrong. buy canada goose jacket cheap

Canada Goose Parka HERSHER: Rusty Hardin is the canada goose outlet hong kong attorney representing the Arkema chemical company. Canada Goose Parka

HARDIN: Arkema did everything they were supposed to do here.

HERSHER: What they were supposed to do under current regulations is have a hurricane preparedness plan and a broader emergency plan, both of which at least noted the risk of flooding. But following existing regulations may not be enough. Chemical Safety Board investigation into what happened canada goose outlet in canada at Arkema found that there is little or no guidance for chemical companies to actually minimize the risk from floods. And companies may need clearer rules about, for example, storing volatile chemicals in flood plains during hurricane season. From Hardin’s point of view, the conversation should be about regulations, not crimes.

HARDIN: I get really, really frustrated of people wanting to use the criminal justice system to respond to bad things that happen. Sometimes bad things happen that there’s no crime. There’s no responsibility. It’s not anyone’s fault. We need to look forward to the future and make sure that we are prepared for these kinds of things if this is going to be the new norm, and many canada goose outlet uk sale think it is.

Canada Goose cheap canada goose Coats On Sale HERSHER: Climate change is driving more big, wet, slow moving storms like Harvey. Last year’s disaster is a vision of the future. And in some ways, this case is testing whether the effects of climate change will play canada goose outlet orlando out, in part, in criminal court. Can companies and the people who work for them be held responsible, even sent to prison, if they fail to prepare for storms that are bigger than anything in the past? David Uhlmann is a law professor at the University of Michigan and the former top environmental prosecutor for the Department of Justice. Canada Goose Coats On Sale

DAVID UHLMANN: Today already we expect companies to be prepared to handle what I might call ordinary rainfall. What climate change is going to do, among other things, is change our definition of what is ordinary rainfall.

HERSHER: As Harvey shows, the extraordinary is becoming more commonplace. And regulations and legal definitions may not be able to keep up.

uk canada goose UHLMANN: In a world where climate change is accelerating at rapid and terrifying speed, you know, we could say you need to be prepared for storms like Hurricane Harvey in the future. And if you fail to do so and something terrible happens, you could be held criminally responsible uk canada goose.


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