Worker Hospitalized After Fire Erupts at K-Solv Chemical Plant in Channelview
A massive fire erupted at the K-Solv chemical storage facility in the Channelview area of Houston, Texas, yesterday afternoon, sending a cloud of thick, black smoke into the air and forcing hundreds of people living near the plant to shelter in place for hours.
Although there were no deaths or life-threatening injuries reported in connection with the blaze, one K-Solv worker was apparently hospitalized for “mild respiratory irritation.”
Channelview Residents Heard Explosion, Followed by Smoke Plume
The April 7th fire broke out around 4:00 p.m., as the contents of one storage drum were being transferred to another. Nearby residents reported hearing a loud bang just before a cloud of smoke began rising from the plant.
“I was at my house just playing with my brother online when we heard the explosion,” a witness told ABC13. “It, like, vibrated in the house. Three or four seconds after I heard that, I came outside, and there was a big cloud of black smoke.”
The resulting plume could be seen for miles throughout eastern Harris County.
K-Solve Channelview Fire Involved Toxic Chemicals
According to Harris County officials, the fire involved several toxic chemicals, including toluene, xylene, triethanolamine, and monoethanolaminealcohol (MEA). While air monitors did not detect any unsafe pollution levels, residents of Lakeside Park Estates and Lakeview Homes were ordered to shelter-in-place as a precaution.
Several local streets, including Lakeside, Northshore, De Zavalla Road, and Harding Street, were shut down. Blowing smoke also forced motorists along the East Freeway to travel at a slow rate of speed.
Fire crews managed to extinguish the fire by 7:00 p.m., and the shelter-in-place order was lifted shortly after. However, authorities warned that reignition was still a possibility.
K-Solv Fined Over $100,000 for Environmental Violations Since 2016
K-Solv is one of the fastest-growing chemical distributors in the Gulf Coast and South regions of the United States. Located in the 1000 block of Lakeside Drive, the Channelview facility houses various chemicals that support the region’s petrochemical and hydrocarbon industries. K-Solv also provides tank cleaning services for customers in those industries.
Records from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicate the company received a $50,000 administrative in 2016 for failing to report a certain form related to chemical releases.
That same year, the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration levied a $3,070 fine against K-Solv over its handling of hazardous materials, including a drum that had not been properly closed.
In 2015, the EPA fined the facility $51,000 for violating the federal Clean Air Act. Those violations included failing to keep complete records relating to barge depressurizing and degassing operations, as well as improper venting of acetic acid.
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