Read the full story at NPR.
Shannan Wheeler was born and raised in Baytown, Texas, an industrial suburb east of Houston that is part of the so-called chemical coast.
Houses are tucked between chemical storage tanks. Parks back up to refinery smokestacks.
“I grew up around five of the biggest petrochemical facilities on the planet,” Wheeler says. An uncle worked at Chevron. Another worked at Shell. “With my family’s history I’m familiar with every one of them,” he says.
The Wheeler name is synonymous with business in the area. Shannan Wheeler’s mother, Tracey, is the longtime president of the Baytown Chamber of Commerce, and he has spent his entire career as an engineer designing pipe systems for petrochemical facilities.
So Shannan Wheeler, 52, is as surprised as anyone that he’s part of a federal lawsuit against a chemical company, especially one that employs people in the town where he and his family live now.