TPC Port Neches Plant Explosion Evacuees Allowed to Return Home
More than 60,000 people from five southeast Texas communities were given the go-ahead to return to their homes on Friday, two days after a massive explosion and fire destroyed the TPC Group petrochemical plant in Port Neches.
TCP Plant Explosion Erupted on Butadiene Processing Unit
The days-long disaster began to unfold around 1:00 a.m. on November 27th, when a violent explosion erupted on a butadiene processing unit in the TCP plant located just off highway 366 near Merriman.
The impact of the initial blast caused extensive damage to homes and other structures throughout Port Neches and blew out windows as far away as Port Arthur. A collapsing flare tower triggered a second massive explosion just 13 hours later.
By late Wednesday afternoon, the plume of thick smoke rising from the burning TPC plant was visible from 50 miles away and black debris could be seen floating through the air across Port Neches. Residents were warned not to touch the material, as it could contain cancer-causing asbestos.
Two TPC employees and a contract worker were injured in the incident, including one man who suffered burns and another who sustained a broken arm. Fortunately, all have since been released from the hospital.
Over 60,000 Evacuated in Port Neches, Nederland, Central Gardens, Beauxart Gardens, and Port Arthur
The TPC plant in Port Neches manufactures chemicals used in the production of synthetic rubber, resins and an octane-boosting component of gasoline. Butadiene is a known carcinogen.
Shortly after the initial explosion, authorities in Jefferson County issued an evacuation order for all homes and businesses located within a ½ mile radius of the TPC plant. But by Wednesday night, the order had expanded to a four-mile radius, affecting more than 60,000 people in Port Neches, Groves, Nederland, Central Gardens, Beauxart Gardens, and portions of Port Arthur.
To discourage looting, the area was also placed under a mandatory 10:00 p.m. curfew.
Residual Fires Remain Burning on TCP Property
Emergency crews worked through Thanksgiving Day to contain the TPC plant fire, and by Friday morning, just a handful of residual fires remained burning on the property. After meeting with officials from the affected communities, Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick announced the evacuation order had been lifted.
“We are in a position to say it’s contained,” Branick said during a news conference in Port Neches. “We feel comfortable with the efforts that have been made by our firefighters.”
While the threat of further explosions has been greatly reduced, returning residents were warned to survey their yards for debris and report the presence of any materials to TPC at 866-601-5880.
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