September 1: As People Continue to Face a Dire and Dangerous Situation, a Chemical Plant Fire Spews Out Dangerous Toxins

September 1, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


As of Friday night, while the floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey were receding from some of areas in Houston and the surrounding counties, there were still large areas underwater. Parts of Beaumont, a city of 120,000 people east of Houston, and nearby communities remained very isolated, and the Neches River is still rising—already eight feet higher than during any previous storm, and not expected to crest until Saturday. The pumps that used to provide fresh water to Beaumont were knocked out by the floodwaters on Thursday, and officials said they did not know when the water system might be repaired.

Many of the people in Beaumont had tried to leave town but had been unable to because the roads were cut off by floodwaters—the city was basically an isolated island. Now, with the water system broken down, the people—who have already lost their homes and possessions—have been left with no drinking water, no water to flush toilets or bathe, desperate for basic sanitation and facing a public health emergency.

According to, the authorities have not evacuated the federal prison in Beaumont where over 1,800 prisoners are held. reports that they have received messages sent by the inmates using a prison email system that tell of the horrible conditions they are facing. described one of the messages: “The man described a scene where a fellow inmate passed out Thursday night because of malnutrition; inmates haven’t had a warm meal in more than five days, he said. Because of the water shortage, four portable toilets were brought in to service the man’s building. No chemicals were placed in the toilets, which have already been ‘topped off’ with waste, the man said. ‘Save me Jesus,’ the man said in an email. ‘I never thought nothing like this would happen in prison.’”

In Houston, thousands still remained in shelters—unsure of how long they would remain there and where they would go when they need to leave. Many of those who were able to go back to their neighborhoods found their homes heavily damaged or totally devastated, their cars unusable, and without any insurance that might help cover losses.

In northeast Houston, part of a chemical plant was engulfed in fire, sending out thick plumes of black smoke. This Arkema plant manufactures organic peroxide, which is toxic, and there were fears that these toxins would spread as the fire continues to spew out smoke into the air—and there is concern that the fire at the plant might spread. A mandatory evacuation has been ordered for people living within 1.5 miles of the plant. This whole region is filled with chemical plants, oil refineries, toxic dumps, and other sites that could be spilling out poisonous material into the floodwaters, posing a huge public health danger.

The situation in the wake of Hurricane Harvey points to the continuing timeliness and importance of the demands that we have posted at (see on this page and here). Spread these widely—in the areas affected by Hurricane Harvey and around the country.

Check in at for continuing coverage.



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