Three employees suffered injuries and residents of nearby towns were asked to evacuate after blasts that took place at a petrochemical plant in Port Neches, Texas, adding to the series of chemical plant accidents in the region. According to reports, the explosion took place in the early morning on November 27 at a TPC Group complex in the Port Neches area followed by a series of explosions shattering windows of homes that were several miles away.
Jefferson County chief executive, Jeff Branick, stated that approximately 60,000 people within a four-mile radius of the blast site were asked to evacuate after the blowing up of a distillation column. Residents of Port Neches and Groves and portions of nearby Nederland and Port Arthur were asked to evacuate.
A representative of the TPC, Peyton Keith, stated that one out of the three injured workers was taken to a hospital in Houston via an air ambulance. Keith, later on, added that all the three workers had received necessary treatment and were discharged from the hospital.
Keith said that firefighters were waiting for a fire to die out in a butadiene processing unit and were in the process of trying to contain the flames from spreading out. In addition to this, firefighters were continuously spraying water on the butane tanks and other fuels in order to keep them at a cool temperature.
According to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality smoke resulting from the explosion released harmful compounds that had the capability to result in the irritation of eyes, throat and nose, headache, difficulty in breathing and nausea.
Although, contamination of water was not reported. In relation to the health hazard that was caused, TCEQ's director Toby Baker said that the explosions were unacceptable incidents and promised to review the state's compliance efforts.
The blast at the TCP site led to a roof collapsing over the plant's control room and ultimately damaging its fire-fighting system. However, the compression system was repaired and restored the same day. A few homes that were in close proximity to the plant sustained heavy damages and police officials went to each house to make sure that people were safe and not injured.
The plant is located on a 218-hectare land that is about 90 miles east of Houston. The petrochemical plant has 175 employees and 50 contractual workers on sit. It is also responsible for processing petrochemicals used to make synthetic runner and resins and also a gasoline additive, Methyl tert-butyl ether. TPC also supplies more than a third of the butadiene they have at their plants.
(With inputs from agencies)