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An explosion rocked a petroleum product processing plant in Port Neches, some 90 miles east of Houston, early on Wednesday, damaging nearby homes and injuring three workers at the site.
TPC Group, the operator of the Port Neches Operations site said that an explosion occurred at a processing unit at the plant.
It is thought that the explosion occurred on a processing facility for specification 1,3 butadiene—a gas used to make synthetic rubber.
“The event is on going, but will be brought under control as quickly and safely as possible,” the group, which makes products derived from petrochemical raw materials such as C4 hydrocarbons, said in a statement.
The first explosion occurred at around 1.00 a.m. on Wednesday and was heard and felt throughout Port Neches, where 13,000 residents live. People woke up from the blast, some reported smashed windows and doors unhinged from the explosion.
“At this time, personnel at the site have been evacuated. We have accounted for all site personnel and 3 personnel have sustained injuries and are being treated,” TPC Group said in its first update on the incident.
TPC was originally built by the US government during WWII as part of a synthetic rubber program, as the US looked for alternatives to the natural rubber supply from Asia that became unavailable to the US. Today, TPC Group occupies 35% of the United States butadiene market.
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In a second update at 06:40 a.m., the company said that “Emergency responders are still working to bring the event under control, and are doing so as quickly and safely as possible. Teams have been dispatched to conduct air monitoring along the fence line of the facility and in surrounding neighborhoods through mutual aid.”
“At this time, we cannot speak to the cause of the incident or the extent of damage, but TPC is assembling a team to conduct a full and thorough investigation,” the group added.
Residents within half a mile from the plant are being evacuated, and those who live within a mile are encouraged to evacuate.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.