Houston Chronicle – by Mihir Zaveri, Susan Carroll and Ben Tavener
HOUSTON/SÃO PAULO — Sandwiched between U.S. and Texas flags, the Brazilian banner waves outside a set of discolored tanks and pipes at the site of a Pasadena refinery. A sign marked “PRSI” – for Pasadena Refining System Inc. – hangs over chain link fence with razor wire that surrounds the compound that dates back nearly a century.
From her porch, Hilda Perez and neighbor Lorie Soliz can see that refinery across a grassy field and train tracks – its glowing flares and sulfurous fumes are familiar. Both friends remember four years ago when an explosion there rocked the neighborhood and a giant flame rose into the sky. “There’s always something going on over there,” said Soliz, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1992.
But they didn’t know that their hometown refinery – owned by Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras – has become a flashpoint in an explosive political scandal abroad.