Explosions and Fire at Port Neches Chemical Plant, Injured Released from Hospitals, Fire Contained: Officials, Local Media

One explosion about 1 am, another about 12 hours later…evacuation of nearby homes and businesses…no elevated chemicals in the air nearby, officials say

 

 

November 27, 2019

Three workers who were injured in a massive explosion at a chemical plant operated by TPC Group have been released from hospitals by Wednesday afternoon.

It happened about 1 this morning at the plant, sending a plume of smoke stretching for miles, according to witnesses, but there were no other injuries reported.

There was a second explosion after noon, witnesses told the Beaumont Enterprise, after which authorities called for an evacuation of homes and businesses within a four-mile radius of the plant, including  Port Neches, Groves, Nederland and portions of Port Arthur.

Residents downwind from the plant were told by the Jefferson County Judge to shelter in place, to stay indoors and turn off air conditioners until the order is lifted.

The force of the blast shattered windows in buildings near the plant.

 

Firefighters were able to contain the blaze near Port Neches, a few miles southeast of Beaumont — but the fire is not officially under control.

TPC makes chemical and petroleum-based products at the plant and promises a “thorough” investigation into the causes of the blast.

The company also has manufacturing facilities adjacent to the Houston Ship Channel and operates a product terminal in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Jefferson County Emergency Management coordinator Mike White said environmental tests of the air near the plant indicate no elevated levels of chemicals are being found, according to KBMT-TV.

TPC’s Director of Health, Safety and Security Troy Monk said the explosion occurred in an area of the plant that makes butadiene, a chemical used in the manufacture of synthetic rubber and other products.

He added that the plant has 175 full-time employees and 50 contract workers, but only about 30 workers were at the plant at the time of the blast and the three injured were two company employees and one contractor.

“There’s extensive damage throughout the city,” Police Chief Paul Lemoine told the Enterprise.

“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.”

TPC’s statement on Wednesday afternoon said, “At approximately 1:00 a.m. today, Wednesday, November 27 an explosion was reported at the TPC Group Port Neches Operations site located at 2102 TX-136 Spur, Port Neches, TX 7561 involving a processing unit. TPC Group has activated its Emergency Response Plan and requested assistance from Port Neches Fire Department and Huntsman.”

Port Neches resident Roger Wallace said the explosion blew out the front window of his townhouse and tore an interior door off its hinges.

“That’ll get you up quickly in the morning,” he told the Enterprise.