Comrade Malik: Environmental disasters in Texas are not a hoax

The TPC Group’s petrochemical plant in Port Neches, Texas, exploded at 1 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 27, and again 13 hours later, blowing out windows miles away and sending “thousands of pounds of pollutants into the air, including hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, benzene, and butadiene,” reports Grist.org, an environmental and social justice site. The plant “manufactures butadiene, which, according to the company, is used to produce synthetic rubber for hoses and tires, and has a long history of state and federal environmental violations, according to The Texas Tribune.” – Photo: Marie D. De Jesús, Houston Chronicle via AP

by Keith ‘Malik’ Washington

In the early morning hours of Nov. 27, 2019, there was a huge explosion at a petrochemical plant located in Port Neches, Texas, just a few miles from USP Beaumont, where I am currently housed. The plant, which is operated by TPC Group, sustained a large amount of structural damage and approximately four people were injured. Over 50,000 people were evacuated in the surrounding area and officials warned all those who were downwind from the plant.

This incident came only days after the Trump administration relaxed regulations that instructed chemical plants like the one in Port Natchez to conduct thorough inspections of their chemical processing facilities. The Trump administration has defined itself as an enemy to the environment and a friend to capitalist oppressors.

In Southeast Texas, these industrial chemical plants continue to spew toxic chemicals into the air. The main part of the regulations that are no longer being enforced is the section which instructed plants to disclose to the public exactly what kind and type of chemicals are being processed at the plants.

More and more, the Environmental Protection Agency under Trump continues to roll back Obama era policies which actually protected the people from chronic polluters like TPC Group.

In my most recent essay on environmental racism in Texas, I rang the alarm, specifically focusing on the threat to our health and our ecosystems here in Southeast Texas.

Instead of listening to my warnings, Texas state government officials ignored my exposé. Rather than respecting me as a rational intellectual, the authorities continue to foolishly regard my work with disdain. The people and our precious earth continue to suffer.

We must stop allowing the federal government to mischaracterize climate change as a hoax.

Port Neches, scene of the explosions, is less than 16 miles from Beaumont.

Mounting statistics and evidence clearly show that human beings are directly responsible for climate change as well as ecological destruction. Collectively, we can stop this, but we must refute these false narratives created by those who don’t have a vested interest in our survival or the survival of our planet.

Sisters and brothers, the time for talking is over. It’s time for some action! Don’t keep procrastinating. You BE THE CHANGE!

Prisoners who, like me, are trapped in federal and state prisons in close proximity to these toxic chemical plants can only do so much. We rely on free world people to confront these violators of the public’s trust. Don’t be silent. Fight Toxic Prisons. SAVE OUR PLANET!

Comrades, the people who live and work inside these prisons don’t have a choice as to what air they can breathe or what water we can drink. Most of us are disadvantaged people of color who come from oppressed backgrounds.

A big part of the system of mass incarceration is a system of secrecy, disinformation and suppression of voices, ideas, thoughts which are diametrically opposed to the prison industrial slave complex. Poisoning prisons with polluted air or contaminated water continues to be ignored in mainstream media discourse, but with your help we can change that. Amplify my voice and together we can work to save the planet.

Thank you,

Comrade Malik

Keith “Malik” Washington is co-founder and chief spokesperson for the End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement, a proud member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee and an activist in the Fight Toxic Prisons campaign. Read Malik’s work at ComradeMalik.com and sfbayview.com/?s=%22Comrade+Malik%22. Send our brother some love and light: Keith “Malik” Washington, 34481-037, FCC Complex USP, P.O. Box 26030, Beaumont TX 77720. Now paroled from Texas, he is serving an 18-month sentence in the federal system, where he was badly beaten Oct. 7 and is being held in solitary confinement. As soon as he’s released, he plans to join the Bay View in San Francisco. We badly need his help and encourage readers to help us get him to safety. Read and follow the instructions at “Join the phone zap to move Comrade Malik, badly beaten, out of USP Beaumont.”