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Mayor’s Office Will Revisit Chemical Plant Safety Standards

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is labeling unacceptable the City of Houston's lack of action in response to a 2004 chemical plant explosion in a southwest neighborhood. It's the first time the board has given such notice to any government agency. KUHF business reporter Andrew Schneider has more.

Mayor Annise Parker’s office is saying it will take a fresh look at the question of pressure vessel safety, in response to the unprecedented move by the Chemical Safety Board.

The announcement comes more than seven years after a pressure vessel exploded at the Marcus Oil plant, causing a three-alarm blaze. The Board found the vessel had been weakened by improper welding. It recommended the city amend its building codes to meet industry safety standards for such equipment. Board member John Bresland:

“They basically have failed to respond to us, and more importantly, they have failed to act, and we as a board, interested in the safety of the citizens of Houston and in the safety of industry in Houston, we just find this lack of response unacceptable.”

Mayor Parker’s office says the Construction Industry Council, which advises the city on building codes, previously considered and rejected such changes. The council noted that neither the State of Texas nor any neighboring cities had such safety regulations in place.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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