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Refinery & Chemical Plant May Have Caused Flooding

Our blog has covered flooding that was caused by flood management officials in Houston, the SJRA, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers…but today’s story is something even more selfish and preventable. In Sweeny, there’s a neighborhood that sits 4 miles downriver from the Phillips 66 refinery and the Chevron Phillips chemical plant. Many families in this community rely on their homes as their chief investment—their retirement plan.

Now, 150 families in this neighborhood are claiming that the two local industrial plants intentionally dammed two bayous to prevent the plants from being flooded, knowing it would flood nearby homes instead.

Managed to Stayed Dry in Post-Harvey Texas

Some homeowners actually managed to be spared from the initial destruction Harvey caused. David Harquist, one of the claimants, had a dry home for 13 days following the storm—though his home was surrounded by floodwaters. However, at some point following the 13th day, the floodwaters stopped receding around his home—and started rising again. His home is ruined now; he estimates that his losses total $250,000 between farming equipment, property damage, and livestock.

He and 149 other claimants believe that the floodwaters started rising again because the Chevron Phillips and Phillips 66 plants dammed the local bayous to keep their plants from being flooded. The displaced water inundated nearby neighborhoods, raising the already-precarious water levels to destructive heights. What’s worse is that the companies provided no warning to the community, which meant none of them had a chance to save what they could.

Chevron’s own employees are among the claimants, as some workers live in Sweeny near the plant.

Chevron Phillips issued a statement in response to the allegations:

"Our priorities during the flood were to protect people and the environment...we do not believe these actions on one side of our property impacted the ongoing flooding event adjacent to the refinery or in the community."

Claimants remain skeptical of Chevron’s motives.