TPC’s bankruptcy reveals the need for more guarantees


It wasn’t quite the same shock thousands of Mid County residents received the day before Thanksgiving in 2019, but it was just as unwelcome. The TPC Group has declared bankruptcy and 5,000 unresolved damages claims could be settled for far less money than is warranted – or not at all. Once again, loopholes in state legislation have left consumers vulnerable for something where they need the utmost protection.

For starters, large factories like this should be required to carry much larger insurance. The TPC Group had about $100 million in insurance, according to attorney Brent Coon, which seems like a lot of money. But with an industrial accident like this, that might not be enough.

It’s the exact same problem that happened with the fertilizer plant in West, Texas, which exploded in 2013, killing 15 people and injuring nearly 200. She too had little insurance, leaving many casualties without compensation for their tragic losses.

This is something the Legislative Assembly is expected to address in the regular session which begins in January, a requirement for a high minimum level of insurance. Many large factories already have this amount of insurance, and the costs won’t be much higher for those that don’t. But in a situation like this, this coverage could at least ensure that accident victims will be adequately compensated for their losses.

It’s unclear now how much money TPC claimants will receive for their losses – and again, they may get nothing. Orange County Judge Courtney Arkeen’s court was awarded many of these claims, and she should use whatever authority she has to direct TPC’s assets to these victims. Many of their homes suffered structural damage that could be of concern for years to come.

And while petrochemical plants in Southeast Texas shouldn’t need any additional incentives to operate safely, this disaster makes it even clearer why it needs to be their top priority.

The factory was destroyed, dozens of jobs could be lost and thousands of local residents suffered material damage. An estimated 50,000 people were forced to evacuate the day before one of our most important holidays – Thanksgiving – when they might have had relatives coming to see them or planning to visit. All of this was disrupted by a terrifying event that turned lives upside down for days or weeks. The only thing that would have made the situation worse would have been fatalities, but luckily that was avoided in this explosion.

But people in Southeast Texas or another part of the state might not be so lucky next time around. That’s why factories, state and federal regulators, and officials must do everything they can to ensure there’s no “next time.” TPC failures must not be repeated in Southeast Texas, or any part of that state,


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