First responders file lawsuit against Arkema Inc.

- Houston-based attorneys Kimberley M. Spurlock and Misty A. Hataway-Coné of Spurlock & Associates, P.C. and Mo Aziz of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz are representing seven first responders who were injured from what they are referring to as a "release of toxic chemicals" on Aug. 31 from the Arkema, Inc. plant.

The attorneys released the following statement on Thursday:

In the early morning hours of August 31, 2017 at the Arkema plant in Crosby, Texas, the first of several explosions occurred as a result of the abandoned chemicals heating up and igniting. Although the explosions had occurred, no one from Arkema alerted the first responders who were manning the perimeter of the arbitrary mandatory evacuation area. 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 from 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 senior corporate communication manager for Arkema Inc. released the following statement on behalf of the company:

We deeply regret that anyone suffered harm as a result of the havoc wreaked on our plant by Hurricane Harvey, particularly first responders who worked with us side-by-side to keep the public safe.

Our employees acted in the same honorable and heroic way that thousands of other citizens in Harris County did when confronted with an unprecedented tragedy.  They did everything they could to protect the public, while fighting fast-rising flood waters that were 5 to 7 feet high at our plant.  We totally cooperated with all first responders and the numerous regulatory agencies working with us to keep the public safe.

We reject any suggestion that we failed to warn of the danger of breathing the smoke from the fires at our site, or that we ever misled anyone.  To the contrary, we pleaded with the public, for their own safety, to respect the 1.5 mile evacuation zone imposed by the unified command well prior to any fire.  We will vigorously defend a lawsuit that we believe is gravely mistaken.

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