ExxonMobil Olefins Plant on Fire, Shelter-In-Place Order Effective for Portions of Baytown, Texas
A fire at the ExxonMobil Olefins Plant is forcing some residents of Baytown, Texas to shelter-in-place today.
Loud Explosion Reported at ExxonMobil Olefins Plant
ExxonMobil activated its onsite emergency responders around 11:00 a.m., shortly after a fire broke out on a unit that produces polypropylene.
According to The Houston Chronicle, people nearby heard an explosion loud enough to “shake windows and upset the dogs.” Moments later, a thick plume of black smoke and flame began rising from the plant.
Media accounts suggest numerous workers suffered non-life-threatening injuries, including several who traveled to local emergency rooms on their own.
Baytown Schools Impacted by ExxonMobil Olefins Fire
Shortly before noon, the City of Baytown issued a shelter-in-place order for the area west of the ExxonMobil Olefins Plant and south of 330 “out of an abundance of caution”. People living and working in the affected areas should remain inside, bring their pets indoors, close all windows, and shut off their air conditioning units until further notice.
According to the Goose Creek CISD, the GC service Center, Robert E. Lee High School, Peter E. Hyland, IMPACT ECHS, San Jacinto Elementary, Travis Elementary and Baytown Junior are all subject to the shelter-in-place order. District officials have asked that parents not attempt to pick up their children.
While the order does not affect Sheldon ISD, the district cancelled all outdoor activities as a precaution.
Polypropylene Gas Becomes Explosive When Mixed with Air
Polypropylene is a flammable gas that becomes explosive when mixed with air. Authorities in Baytown are apparently concerned that any cylinders exposed to fire inside the ExxonMobil Olefins Plant could allow the gas to escape through pressure relief valves.
Inhaling polypropylene vapors can cause dizziness or asphyxiation without warning. Contact with the vapors or liquified gas can also cause burns, severe injury, and frostbite.
According to a statement posted to Twitter, Industrial Hygiene staff from ExxonMobil Baytown Area are conducting air quality testing inside the facility and at the fence line.
About the ExxonMobil Olefins Plant
The 3,400-acre ExxonMobil Olefins Plant sits along the Houston Ship Channel, just 30 miles east of Houston. The facility began operating in 1979, and currently employs about 7,000 people at four separate manufacturing sites.
The ExxonMobil Olefins Plant recently completed construction of a multi-billion-dollar ethylene cracker. The cracker has a capacity of 1.5 million tons per year, and provides ethylene feedstock to two new high-performance polyethylene lines at the Mont Belvieu Plastics Plant.
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Our Houston Plant Explosion Lawyers are monitoring developments at the ExxonMobil Olefins Plant in Baytown and will post an update when new information becomes available.
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