EPA, Homeland Security hear chemical plant concerns

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HOUSTON – Hard to believe it’s been nine months since that fertilizer plant explosion up in West, Texas. 15 people were killed and more than 160 injured. It was bad enough that four-months later, President Obama issued an executive order requiring chemical plants to improve the way they store explosive materials .

Nine months later, Homeland Security, the EPA, and other officials met with folks from the community at the Harris County Department of Education Training & Conference Center in north Houston to hear ideas and concerns about our chemical plants. And boy did they get an earful.

“They’re not being regulated the way they should,” Houstonian Patricia Gonzales lamented. “We’re still continuously getting sick, there’s children with asthma, there’s people with cancer.”

Despite the cold, more than a hundred folks turned out to tell the government how they felt about the refineries stacked up in their back yards. And what we should be doing to make sure the next explosion doesn’t happen here.

“Everytime you have an incident like this, it kills people, it effects communities and the industry can be regulated to where they can use safer chemicals, switch to alternative chemicals,” Houstonian Juan Parras explained.

And while permanent answers won’t come in a day, the folks who braved to cold to be at thie event want to make sure their message gets back to Washington.

“I just want them to know that we should start looking toward alternative energy other than fossil fuel itself,” Louisiana resident Delma Bennett said as the meeting broke for lunch.

Now it’s a wait to see what, if any, changes come from the disaster.