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TPC Group files for bankruptcy 2 years after Port Neches plant explosions

For thousands of families who filed lawsuits after the TPC explosions, the wait for justice continues.

PORT NECHES, Texas — The TPC Group announced Wednesday it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company said it's a voluntary move that should strengthen its finances and make them more competitive.

This bankruptcy filing comes two-and-a-half years after explosions rocked the company's Port Neches plant damaging hundreds of homes and businesses.

MORE | Read full news release here.

TPC now uses the facility as a terminal to process chemicals. It's no longer producing any chemicals there. Instead, it's focused on receiving and delivering butadiene to customers, and acting as a crude C-4 terminal, according to a 12News file story. 

As 12News Investigates reported last year, more than 5,000 people have sued TPC. It could be another year or two before cases go to trial.

RELATED: Victims of TPC plant explosions that damaged homes, businesses, waiting for justice 2 years later

For thousands of families who filed lawsuits after the TPC explosions, the wait for justice continues.

“They should take care of what the consequence of their negligence is they should take care of it 100% and not leave anyone in the lurch,” Allison Hudspeth told 12News previously.

12News investigates met Hudspeth last year. She's done her best, to move on.

"It was so simple. Listen to the employees. Our clients that worked out there shut this down," said Mark Sparks, an attorney at the Ferguson Law Firm.

Sparks and his counterpart across town, Attorney Brent Coon, agree TPC knew it had a problem with something called popcorn polymers.

"The product in the lines gets gummed up and when it gets gummed up, it expands, and when it expands in the piping, it can cause the pipe to rupture,” Coon said. “It's not a lot different than when water gets frozen in a pipe."

TPC's chapter 11 bankruptcy creates a new challenge.

It automatically pauses the lawsuits. TPC has the protection of bankruptcy court in Delaware.

Coon told 12News he was expecting this, and they've hired counsel to deal with that in Delaware.

Coon also plans to petition Orange County Judge Courtney Arkeen to sever TPC from the litigation so they can move forward with lawsuits against other plaintiffs including chemical companies and engineering firms.

Sparks agrees that those other entities should share the blame for the blasts.

“They're pushing back, and we're going to keep pushing because that's what we do,” Sparks said.

TPC has previously denied to comment on the lawsuits, but a company spokesperson said the bankruptcy filing will help the company's bottom line by "resolving tort liabilities and eliminating nearly a billion dollars in debt."

TPC acknowledged this is part of the fallout from the 2019 explosions.

"A series of unprecedented events including the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain issues, commodity price increases, higher energy costs and operational challenges resulting from 2021 Winter Storm Uri, and the explosion at our Port Neches plant in November of 2019 have caused financial strain for the Company," said Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of TPC Group, Edward J. Dineen. 

The company said this filing is expected to resolve all tort liabilities arising from the Port Neches facility incident and eliminate from the Company's balance sheet over $950 million of the Company's approximately $1.3 billion of secured funded debt.

This is a developing story. We will update with more if and when we receive more confirmed information.

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RELATED: First pre-trial hearing held Monday for 530 TPC explosion-related lawsuits

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