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A Letter from Photographer Robin Michals

On November 27th, the Texas Petrochemical Chemical plant, which manufactures butadiene used in synthetic rubber primarily for tires, was rocked by two explosions causing a fire at the plant that burned for six days.

60,000 people that live in a 4 mile radius were evacuated. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the EPA have fined this facility more than 6 times in the last five years for toxic emissions. The fines were in the thousands of dollars in an industry that counts its profits in the billions. These accidents will keep happening-this was the fourth major petrochemical fire in the Houston area this year- until fines for environmental violations are higher than the cost of the safety measures.

 

What can we do? Vote for political representatives that will support the enforcement of environmental regulations. The Trump administration rolled back the Obama regulations on plants that house large amounts of flammables the week before this fire. Was this directly responsible? Hard to tell as this plant had so many violations for so many years. Either way, the regulations are meaningless if they are not enforced.

— Robin Michals

Robin’s series Our Neighborhood is featured on the 8th edition of The FENCE currently on view in Sarasota and Atlanta.

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