Advocates for Hispanics blast Valero plant

August 19, 2008 10:46:28 AM PDT
Two Hispanic groups are blasting Valero in the wake of an explosion at its southeast Houston plant earlier this month.A toxic chemical was released into the air during the accident on August 4. The groups claim that Valero showed a lack of concern for residents living near the plant.

The Latino groups pointed out when the spill occurred, several workers were sent to the hospital. In the process, residents say the company never offered any help or treatment for neighbors who live in the area.

The Manchester neighborhood is predominantly Hispanic. The community surrounds the Valero plant. What these groups are alleging are when these chemicals spilled and were released into the air, it affected a lot of neighbors -- both young and old -- who live in that area.

However, they say the company never went to the neighborhood, never offered to take care of medical expenses or perhaps to send an ambulance to those who needed help.

Since the accident, at least one lawsuit has been filed by the neighbors. The people who filed the lawsuit say that Valero offered to buy out their homes in exchange for dismissing the lawsuit.

But primarily, the two organizations that came together today to hold a news conference say they are putting the chemical companies on notice.

"We put the petrochemical business on notice that we are going to be documenting these cases and we are going to go after you," said KB Forbes, Consejo Executive Director. "If you are polluting, if you are contaminating and you are making people sick and if you are a nuisance or doing negligent behavior, we are going to hold you accountable.

No additional lawsuits have been filed yet but they are beginning the process of gathering evidence and getting their stories. They say more lawsuits down the road could be possible.

Meanwhile, Valero said they did offer to buy up a house or two in an ongoing program and it had nothing to do with the chemical spill that took place a little more than two weeks ago.

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