There is an old saying that “sometimes bad things happen to good people.” Well this can also be said of businesses, such as the case with ExxonMobil’s Baytown Olefins Plant when on July 31 an unfortunate incident happened to a great company. Anyone who thinks ExxonMobil doesn’t care about the safety and well-being of their employees, contractors and the community has not paid attention to the investment, both financially and service wise, the company has made in Baytown. The recent expansion at BOP was well beyond $3 billion, which adds value to the facility and contributes to the amount ExxonMobil will pay the City of Baytown in additional taxes. This allowed a recent property tax reduction to residents of Baytown.
Although Baytown was not the official name of our community at the time Humble Oil began operations here, we will soon celebrate a 100 year partnership with ExxonMobil. During these 100 years, ExxonMobil employees have been involved in building great community to live and work. As a member of City Council, over the years I had the privilege of getting to know a good number of the ExxonMobil plant managers and they are all the cream of the crop when it comes to leadership. The current BOP Manager, Jason Duncan is certainly no exception. Jason is involved in the Baytown community as exemplified during the recent Rotary Club (of which he is a member) Shrimp & Catfish Festival where he and his two teenage children served those in the community who bought food tickets. There are endless examples of other ExxonMobil employees serving in the Kiwanis Club, Lions Club, and the countless other service organizations that do great things in our community.
These organizations have members who operate the ExxonMobil complex and know ExxonMobil’s commitment to operating a safe and environmentally sound operation. Before my retirement, I spent 23 years as the health, safety and environmental manager for an industrial neighbor of ExxonMobil. Over the years I have served on numerous industrial committees with ExxonMobil safety and environmental professionals and have full confidence that this past incident will be investigated to the fullest. I also know that information gained from the investigation will be shared not only with other ExxonMobil facilities, but with the petrochemical industry to help other companies avoid such an unfortunate incident.
It is a shame that the Harris County Attorney’s office finds a need to grandstand by filing a lawsuit before the company has had the opportunity to determine the cause of the incident. ExxonMobil operates under a Federal Operating Pemit and as such is subject to both state and federal environmental regulations. Rock Owens, the head lawyer for Harris County should use taxpayer money more wisely and concentrate on finding the less obvious environmental violations.
We are grateful to have ExxonMobil as a community neighbor and look forward to a great partnership that will continue for many years to come.