ExxonMobil Olefins Fire Contained, 37 Injured in Baytown Ethylene Plant Explosion
A massive fire at the ExxonMobil Olefins Plant is finally contained, with officials in Baytown, Texas indicating the blaze will now be allowed to burn itself out.
ExxonMobil Olefins Fire Sent 66 Workers to Area Hospitals
The July 31st fire erupted shortly after 11:00 a.m., following a loud explosion on a unit that produces polypropylene. Moments later, a tall column of smoke and flame began rising from the facility.
Within an hour, the City of Baytown had declared a shelter-in-place order for the area west of the ExxonMobil Olefins fire and south of 330. The order remained in place for more than three hours.
All workers at the ExxonMobil Olefins plant have been accounted for, including 66 people who underwent medical evaluations at area hospitals. The company has since confirmed that 37 suffered non-life-threatening injuries, including first-degree burns. Fortunately, they were all able to leave the hospital by Wednesday night.
ExxonMobil Olefins Has History of Safety & Environmental Violations
ExxonMobil Olefins is part of the company’s 3,400-acre Baytown Refinery Complex located along the Houston Ship Channel. According to the Associated Press, the facility had 68 tons of ethylene on site in 2017, along with large quantities of ammonia, benzene, and other hazardous materials.
In 2017, ExxonMobil agreed to pay $2.5 million to resolve accusations that it violated the federal Clean Air Act by failing to control industrial flairs. The company also agreed to retrofit eight facilities, including the ExxonMobil Olefins Plant, with anti-pollution technology.
Records from the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) indicate that five workers have been seriously injured at the Baytown Complex over the past three years. Four suffered burns, while a fifth lost a finger.
During the last 10 years, OSHA has fined the ExxonMobil Baytown Complex $40,000 for eight workplace safety violations, including 7 serious violations.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality also cited the ExxonMobil Olefins plant 22 times over the past decade, with fines totaling nearly $1 million.
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