HOUSTON — Houston-area officials have approved the hiring of additional assistant district attorneys to prosecute environmental crimes following two major chemical plant fires that closed schools and leaked toxic chemicals into coastal waters.

Harris County commissioners on Tuesday authorized spending $850,000 so that the district attorney's office can hire four prosecutors who will focus on environmental violations. The move also includes hiring two investigators and two support staff.

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The approval comes after commissioners in February turned down District Attorney Kim Ogg's request for more than 100 additional prosecutors for her office.

But Ogg's request came before a March fire at Intercontinental Terminals Co. that triggered shelter-in-place warnings, and another fire in April at a KMCO plant in which a worker was killed.

The commissioners' vote came a day after Ogg announced ITC will be charged with five counts of water pollution.

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