KMCO Chemical Plant Ordered to Suspend All Operations Following Deadly Crosby, Texas Explosion
A court has ordered KMCO to temporarily stop all operations at its Crosby, Texas, chemical plant, following a catastrophic explosion that tragically killed one worker and critically injured two others last Tuesday.
The facility will not reopen until inspectors from the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office determine it’s safe.
KMCO Plant Fire Burned Over 5 Hours
Workers had already begun to evacuate the KMCO plant on April 2nd, when a transfer line ignited a tank filled with highly-flammable isobutylene shortly before 11:00 a.m.
The explosion triggered a massive fire that would continue to burn for more than five hours. In the meantime, officials ordered nearby residents and schools to shelter-in-place.
A KMCO employee lost his life in the blast. Media reports indicate the 27-year-old Daiesetta man died while attempting to prevent the disaster.
Helicopters transferred two workers to Texas Medical Center, where they are receiving treatment for burns and other critical injuries.
No Timeline for Opening KMCO’s Crosby Chemical Plant
KMCO suspended operations at the Crosby, Texas chemical plant last Friday, after the Harris County Fire Marshall and Harris County Attorneys Office were granted a temporary restraining order against the facility.
The KMCO plant must remain closed until the Fire Marshal’s Office completes a Fire and Life Safety Inspection. It’ not clear, however, when that will take place. Dangerous conditions have so far prevented investigators from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board and other state and federal agencies from entering the site.
Locked Gate Slowed KMCO Plant Evacuation
There’s still no word on what might have caused last Tuesday’s tragedy in Crosby, Texas.
KMCO officials apparently became aware of an isobutylene leak and ordered the evacuation just moments before the explosion. Several workers, however, said a locked gate slowed their escape.
“We had to crawl underneath the gate because the gate was locked at the time, so just run,” one man said. “We were still in the actual plant when it blew up.”
The KMCO plant explosion was the third serious industrial incident in the Houston Metro Region in less than three weeks
Only 16 days earlier, a massive tank fire erupted at the ITC Deer Park petrochemical plant just 15 miles from Crosby. Hundreds reportedly suffered sore throats, nose-bleeds and other symptoms likely related to toxic chemicals released during the days-long blaze.
Fortunately, no one was injured the previous day, when a fire broke out at ExxonMobil’s Baytown refinery.
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