Rebekah Staub, Permian-Gulf Communications Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org
FREEPORT, Texas—Residents are still feeling the impacts after the explosion at Freeport LNG. Exactly one year after the incident, residents gathered near the site to draw attention to the safety concerns and dangers the facility poses to the surrounding residents, while exposing how much money the state and local governments handout to polluters.
A recent investigation revealed Freeport LNG received tax breaks amounting to more than $1.1 billion, nearly 6 million dollars for every job the company promised to create. Yet, the root cause of the explosion has been widely attributed to human error and fatigue exacerbated by understaffing. Freeport operators and staff would oftentimes work 12-hours shifts, and it’s been reported the company was aware of problems in the plant days before the accident. The explosion was not an isolated incident, it was the fourth incident reported to Pipeline Hazardous Materials and Safety Administration from the Freeport facility in the last three years, showing a pattern of mismanagement while disregarding the safety of the local communities.
“The risk to our community’s safety was made evident last summer when the Freeport LNG explosion sent flames shooting 450 feet into the air, injuring beachgoers, shaking resident’s homes and sending tons of toxic chemicals into the air,” said Freeport resident Melanie Oldham. “And now we know that while a root cause of the explosion was the facility being severely understaffed, Freeport LNG received nearly 6 million dollars in tax breaks per job they promised to create. They’ve effectively taken money out of the pockets of taxpayers and given it to wealthy corporations that put our health and safety at risk.”
Following the explosion, Better Brazoria sent a letter to the Biden administration demanding for more transparency, and greater oversight of gas export terminals. The regulations that govern gas export terminals are more than 40 years old and are designed for import terminals. Export terminals pose unique engineering considerations that the current regulations fail to address, including the risk of vapor cloud explosions. To date, the Biden administration still has not moved forward with new safety and oversight regulations.
“One year later and there has been no transparency of if the systemic issues that led to the explosion have been addressed. Why should our community trust them to do things differently now?”, said Freeport resident Manning Rollerson. “What we have learned is that federal regulators can’t even give proper oversight. The fact that this facility is operating today makes me afraid of what could happen next.”
More than 140 organizations today, including Better Brazoria, sent an open letter to the world’s largest insurance corporations demanding they stop insuring methane gas export terminals and meet with the community members affected by these projects. More than 20 LNG facilities are proposed to be built along the Gulf Coast, located in communities already overburdened by the fossil fuel industry like Freeport.
Better Brazoria is a grassroots organization dedicated to promoting environmental justice, protecting communities, and advocating for responsible industrial practices. They engage communities, educate, and advocate for a sustainable future.