TPC Plant Explosion in Port Neches Injures 3 Workers and Forces Evacuations
A massive explosion at a chemical plant in Port Neches, Texas left three workers injured earlier this morning and forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes.
TPC Port Neches Plant Explosion Felt Miles Away
Emergency responders were called to Texas Petroleum Chemical (TCP), located just off highway 366 near Merriman, shortly after 1:00 a.m. on November 27th.
In an interview with CNN, one Port Neches resident compared the blast to a “nuke going off”. Others living nearly 10 miles away in Port Arthur felt their homes shake, with several reporting that windows had been blown out.
“There’s extensive damage throughout the City,” the Port Neches Police Department said in a statement issued earlier today. “Please stay off the roads anywhere near the refineries. Obey all the barricades that are in place. We are doing everything we can to keep everyone safe and informed.”
2 TPC Employees and 1 Contract Worker Taken to Area Hospitals
Two TPC employees and a contract worker were injured in the explosion, including one man who was airlifted to a Houston hospital with severe burns. His current condition remains unknown.
Another worker apparently suffered a broken arm, while a third has been treated and released.
Fortunately, all remaining plant personnel have been accounted for and there were no fatalities.
Hours after the initial explosion, however, residents of Port Neches could still hear loud booms coming from the TPC plant, as crews had yet to bring the raging fire under control.
TPC Plant Fire Involves Hazardous Butadine
Jefferson County authorities have issued an evacuation order for all homes and businesses located within a half-mile of the TPC facility and have advised others nearby to shelter-in-place.
The blaze apparently involves butadiene, a colorless gas used to manufacture synthetic rubber, plastics, and other chemicals that’s also known to be a health hazard.
According to the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, acute low exposure to butadiene can cause eye, throat, nose, and lung irritation, while acute high exposure may result in distorted blurred vision, vertigo, general tiredness, decreased blood pressure, headache, nausea, and decreased pulse rate.
Some studies have also suggested a strong causal association between chronic butadiene exposure and cancer.
So far, it’s not clear what caused this morning’s explosion; however, TPC officials have confirmed that the incident occurred on a “processing unit”.
The TPC facility in Port Neches manufactures a range of products for chemical and petroleum-based companies. In addition to butadiene, the plant also produces raffinate, a residual of the refining process.
Port Neches Explosion 5th in Southeast Texas This Year Alone
The TPC plant explosion is the fifth petrochemical disaster to impact southeast Texas in 2019.
The year’s first serious refinery explosion occurred on March 16th, when a furnace fire erupted at the ExxonMobil Baytown refinery.
Just a day later, a chemical leak sparked a massive tank fire at the ITC-Deer Park petrochemical storage facility outside Houston. People across the Houston Metro Region were forced to shelter-in-place during and after the explosion and hundreds sought treatment for sore throats, headaches, nose bleeds, nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms likely related to the toxic hydrocarbons released by the fire.
Click here to view Ryan Zehl’s interview with ABC news about the effects of the ITC explosion.
Less than three weeks later, a worker was tragically killed and two others were seriously injured when an explosion and fire broke out at the KMCO chemical plant in Crosby.
The KMCO explosion was followed by a fire at the ExxonMobil Olefins plant in Baytown on July 31st. More than 60 workers were taken to area hospitals following that incident, including 41 who received treatment for burns and other injuries.
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