ExxonMobil to pay civil penalty and take remedial measures to resolve Clean Air Act violations stemming from deadly fire at Texas refinery

Beaumont STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER / Guiseppe Barranco/The Enterprise
The Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement with ExxonMobil Oil Corporation (ExxonMobil) today to resolve federal Clean Air Act claims arising from a 2013 fire at the company’s oil refinery in Beaumont, Texas that killed two employees and injured ten others.  In a complaint filed today with the settlement, the United States alleges that the company violated Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act, which requires measures to prevent accidental releases of extremely hazardous substances that can have serious public health and environmental consequences.  The April 17, 2013, fire at the refinery occurred when workers used a torch to remove bolts from the top, or “head,” of a device called a heat exchanger.  The torch ignited hydrocarbons released from the head.  EPA’s inspection following the incident disclosed violations of Section 112(r) and of the regulations known as the Chemical Accident Prevention provisions.  “The deaths...
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Back in Business: Texas fire school resumes summer industrial training

IRTFtank Fire foam demonstration using IRTF's 42-foot-diameter storage tank prop.
By ANTON RIECHER/IFW Editor Beginning in the late 1960s Beaumont, TX played host to a summer training school attended by industrial firefighters across the state and, eventually, from around the world. Then, in 2004, that tradition was set aside by a new regime at the Beaumont fire school. David Owens with Industrial Rescue, operator of the recently reopened school, plans to resume the annual event beginning in May 2019. “It’s a big deal for us to get that going again,” Owens said. “It will give all the local emergency response companies around here the opportunity to train together again.” Scheduled for May 6 through 10, the summer school will offer training in interior and exterior firefighting, rescue, leadership and other topics important to emergency response teams. “I’ve talked to most of the players out there and they’re all excited about being a part of it,” Owens said. “Most of them started...
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New management reopens fire training field in Beaumont, TX

Despite being given up for dead by its previous lessee, the Beaumont (TX) Fire/Rescue Training Center is on track to reopen in late July, nearly a year since heavy flooding during Hurricane Harvey forced its closure. The Beaumont City Council voted unanimously in April to grant a 20-year lease on the 45-acre city-owned facility to Industrial Rescue Instruction Systems, Inc., a Beaumont-based company specializing in training for industrial emergency responders. IRIS owner David Owens said the reopened school will now operate under the name Industrial Rescue Fire Training Field. “This is an opportunity we’ve been looking for,” Owens said. “The city offered the school to us in 2002 but we weren’t big enough at the time.” Owens, who plans to invest $1.5 million in reopening the school, said the project was largely a matter of “sentimental value” to him. He became familiar with the complex as a student and instructor before...
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Flood damaged Beaumont, TX fire training school to reopen by late July

A Beaumont, TX-based rescue training company has stepped forward to save the Beaumont Emergency Safety Training complex, closed since August 2017 after heavy flooding from Hurricane Harvey.   The Beaumont City Council voted unanimously to grant a 20-year lease to Industrial Rescue Instruction Systems, Inc., an industrial emergency training school with facilities in Beaumont and Baytown, TX, near Houston.   “This is an opportunity we’ve been looking for,” said IRIS owner David Owens. “The city offered the school to us in 2002 but we weren’t big enough at the time.”     Making an investment of $1.5 million in the facility, Owens said he expects to reopen by the end of July.   Founded in 1966 under the name “Flame City,” the 45-acre complex consists of 14 fire training simulations or “props,” and assorted other facilities for training in rescue and hazardous materials response.   Located on the banks of the...
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An extinguished flame

“Do not go gentle into that good night, rage, rage against the dying of the light” Dylan Thomas   It’s hard to believe that any facility as akin to fire and fury as the Beaumont Emergency Safety Training complex could fade away more gently. A cursory search of Beaumont news sites notes not one word about the death of this historic fire training school. Granted, the city suffered a stunning blow from a hurricane so nasty its name was an immediate candidate for official retirement, al la Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Sandy. But I image if a city landmark such as the Babe Didrikson Zaharias Museum remained closed so many months later it might grab somebody’s attention. Maybe it stands disregarded because the place was inundated rather than demolished. Squatting next to Interstate 10, the BEST complex is free of wreckage, almost pristine, with nothing visible from a distance to suggest it...
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