Worker killed in Texas chemicals plant fire

Article by Adam Duckett

ONE worker has been killed and two seriously injured in a chemicals plant fire in Texas, US.

The incident at the plant in Crosby run by KMCO occurred at around 10am local time on 2 April. Crosby is around 40 km northeast of Houston and the incident comes shortly after two others at processing facilities in Texas last month.

Ed Gonzalez, Harris County Sheriff, tweeted that a transfer line ignited in the area of a tank of isobutylene which then caught fire. An adjacent storage building containing solid goods also caught fire, he said.

A statement from company CEO John Foley said they were deeply saddened by the incident and that additional statements will be issued once more information becomes available. Investigators have begun looking over the scene and interviewing witnesses to confirm the cause of the fire.

The KMCO site employs more than 180 full time staff, manufacturing chemicals including glycols and oilfield products, as well as providing contract manufacturing services. It houses 28 reactors and more than 600 tanks.

The fire led local authorities to order everyone within one mile of the plant to stay in their homes. This was lifted around four hours after the fire was reported, and the fire extinguished one hour later.

Last month in Texas, there was a short-lived fire at ExxonMobil’s Baytown refinery, and firefighters also spent three days battling a blaze that spread through a chemicals storage depot run by Intercontinental Terminals (ITC) in Deer Park. The incidents prompted a scathing assessment from Elena Craft of the Environmental Defense Fund, who said the agency in Texas responsible for ensuring chemical plant safety is “unable or unwilling” to protect the public’s health and wellbeing.

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

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