An explosion tore through the KMCO chemical plant in Crosby, Texas earlier today, tragically killing one worker and injuring two others.
KMCO Chemical Plant Explosion Heard 20 Miles Away
Harris County 911 received reports of an explosion at the KMCO facility at 16503 Ramsey Road, about 25 miles east of Houston, shortly before 11:00 a.m.
People living up to 20 miles away were able to hear the blast. Witnesses also reported nearby homes shaking, while a woman over a mile from the plant was thrown to the ground.
Fire crews from multiple Harris County departments are still working to contain the resulting fire, which continues to send large clouds of smoke into the air around Crosby.
KMCO Workers Ordered to Evacuate Moments Before Explosion
According to one KMCO employee, workers were warned of a leak and ordered to evacuate moments before the disaster. They then heard a series of smaller explosions, followed by a massive blast.
“Just run, that’s it,” he told KTRK. “It was scary. Very scary. Everybody that was around me was running.”
The Harris County Sherriff’s Department confirmed that one worker died at the scene.
Life Flight helicopters transferred two others to area hospital with unspecified injuries.
KMCO Explosion Involved Highly-Flammable Isobutylene
The KMCO chemical plant in Crosby primarily manufactures antifreeze.
The explosion evidently involved highly-flammable isobutylene. This colorless gas can cause dizziness, drowsiness and unconsciousness if inhaled. Contact with the eyes or skin can result in irritation.
Emergency management officials have ordered residents within a mile of the KMCO chemical plant explosion to shelter-in-place.
All campuses within the Crosby, Sheldon, Galena Park and Channelview Independent School Districts also sheltered-in-place for much of the afternoon. The affected schools shut off air conditioning systems and did not allow children to leave until it was safe to do so.
KMCO Chemical Plant Has History of Environmental Violations
The Houston Metro Region is still reeling from the massive tank fire that erupted at the ITC-Deer Park petrochemical plant on St. Patrick’s Day morning, and continued to burn on and off for a week.
Like the ITC facility in Deer Park, the KMCO chemical plant also has a history of serious environmental violations.
According to KHOU 11, the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality has fined KMCO 10 times since 1995, totaling nearly $141,000.
In 2016, KMCO was convicted on two counts of violating the federal Clean Air Act and ordered to pay part of a $3.3 million criminal penalty.
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