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When it comes to restoring neighbors’ trust after a chemical plant accident, applying the tough lessons of an incident can make all the difference in improving safety and repairing relationships.

Following a series of serious industrial incidents at chemical plants along the Houston Ship Channel, ACC and its member companies brought together a group of safety experts to investigate what happened and what steps the industry could take to prevent or respond to future incidents. The group had a commitment contained in ACC’s Responsible Care® Program that asks member companies to assess the circumstances of each incident and learn from them.

As a result of the group’s work, ACC worked with representatives from Harris County and the Houston Advance Research Center (HARC) to collaborate on a groundbreaking initiative to improve the county’s air surveillance capabilities. The initiative was made possible by a $ 1 million grant from the ACC Foundation to purchase more than 60 new air monitors and support the development of new scientific tools for interpreting air quality data in an emergency.

The first of its kind was put to the test this week in a major fire at a chemical distribution facility in Channelview, TX. The new air monitoring devices gathered information throughout the incident, strengthening officers’ ability to make key safety decisions and keep the public informed.

Harris County Precinct 2 commissioner Adrian Garcia pointed out during a press conference at the scene of the accident, the new air surveillance resources helped improve the county’s ability to respond to the incident. Importantly, the equipment also helped Harris County officials keep an eye on air quality when the chemical plants had to be quickly shut down during Winter Storm Uri.

ACC hopes to build on this early success in Texas and we are exploring ways we can potentially develop similar air monitoring initiatives in chemical manufacturing hubs in other parts of the country to implement the lessons learned!

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