NATIONAL NEWS

Explosion, fire injure 1 at Houston-area chemical plant

Mar 22, 2023, 12:08 PM | Updated: 2:48 pm

PASADENA, Texas (AP) — An explosion and fire erupted Wednesday at a chemical plant in suburban Houston, injuring one person.

Officials were still investigating what caused the blast at 12:11 p.m. at the plant in the city of Pasadena.

But preliminary information showed the fire occurred as liquified natural gas was being transferred from a tanker truck to a storage tank, Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia said at a news conference.

County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said the injured person was taken to a hospital and was listed in stable condition. The man possibly suffered some burns, but his injuries did not appear to be life threatening, Gonzalez said.

Local news broadcasts showed a large ball of fire at the plant followed by large plumes of black smoke. Crews later extinguished the blaze.

Officials briefly shut down nearby roads.

The facility is owned by INEOS Phenol and produces Cumene, an organic compound used to make a variety of things including herbicides and pesticides, cleaning products and auto parts.

A spokesman for INEOS Phenol did not immediately return a call and email seeking comment.

The city of Pasadena said it had not ordered residents to take any protective actions, such as sheltering in place.

County officials said preliminary air monitoring after the fire did not detect any problems that might impact residents.

“Our Pollution Control and Hazardous Materials teams will remain on the ground to monitor the situation and ensure there is no threat to public health or safety,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, the county’s top elected official, said in a statement.

Cumene is a skin and eye irritant and may cause headaches, dizziness, drowsiness and unconsciousness with short-term inhalation, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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