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Bauer Business Focus

ITC Disaster A Stain, But Also An Opportunity For Petrochemical Industry

An energy and environment expert says the industry can learn important lessons from the fire in Deer Park.

Rachel Meidl is a fellow of energy and environment at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy.


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The fire at the ITC chemical storage facility in Deer Park put Houston and the petrochemical industry in the national spotlight.

"I think it absolutely has an impact on the perception of the industry itself," said Rachel Meidl, fellow of energy and environment at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy. "And I think it is the obligation of the organization to strengthen and protect the public and the environment in which it operates."

Meidl was previously the deputy associate administrator for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

She said it's going to be difficult for the industry to regain the public's trust, but that it also provides an opportunity to improve government regulations and for the industry to strengthen its safety protocols.

She said lessons were learned from the Arkema plant incident in Crosby during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, when toxic chemicals were found in the water after the plant flooded, caught fire and partially exploded.

"We have made changes in understanding flood site vulnerability and flood risk assessment and strengthening flood resiliency," Meidl said.

Click on the audio above to listen to the interview with Rachel Meidl.

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