Harris County hiring more environmental experts after fires

FILE - In this July 31, 2019, file photo, evacuated Exxon Mobil workers take a break or watch the fire from the Baytown Olefins Plant entrance in Baytown, Texas. Harris County will hire more environmental personnel for better response to dangerous chemical plant and refinery fires like several accidents this year near the Houston Ship Channel. The Houston Chronicle reports county commissioners Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, approved the $11.6 million plan for the 61 new hires and updated equipment for handling environmental emergencies.

HOUSTON (AP) — Harris County plans to hire additional environmental personnel to better respond to dangerous chemical plant and refinery fires like ones that occurred this year near the Houston Ship Channel.

The Houston Chronicle reports county commissioners Tuesday approved an $11.6 million plan for the 61 new hires and updated equipment for handling environmental emergencies.

The fiery chemical-related accidents since March included a July 31 blaze at an Exxon Mobil refinery in Baytown that left more than three dozen people with minor injuries.

A Chronicle investigation found that staffing levels at three county departments have failed to keep pace with years of increased commercial activity along the ship channel.

Officials say the new staff and equipment will support the offices of fire marshal, pollution control and public health.

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Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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