A possible explosion and fire were reported in Baytown, Texas, near Houston, at an Exxon plant. A shelter-in-place has just been issued as of 11:30 a.m. Here’s what we know so far about what’s happening.
Two fires have been reported at ExxonMobil BTA, KHOU 11 reported. At first a shelter-in-place wasn’t issued but that has changed. The fire is at the ExxonMobil Baytown Complex’s Olefins plant, located at 3525 Decker Drive.
Here is a map of the shelter-in-place, provided by the City of Baytown:
Out of an abundance of caution, a shelter-in-place was issued around 11:30 a.m. for an area west of the plant and south of 330, which you can see in the map above. Air quality monitoring will also be conducted around the complex and in the community, the City of Baytown tweeted, “as a precaution.”
Officials are monitoring the situation, but so far a police presence has not been requested, said Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.
ExxonMobil Baytown Area shared the following statement: “A fire has occurred at the Baytown Olefins Plant. Our fire teams are working to extinguish the fire. We are conducting personal accounting. Our first priority remains the safety of people, including our employees, contractors, and the surrounding community. As a precaution, our Industrial Hygiene staff is conducting air quality monitoring at the site and fence line. We are cooperating with regulatory agencies. We deeply regret any disruption or inconvenience that this incident may have caused the community.”
According to the City of Baytown, the fire is in a unit that contains polypropylene material. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is heading to the area.
A lot of people are sharing videos and photos of the fires.
Here’s another video shared on Imgur:
No injuries have been reported.
The fire is at the ExxonMobil plant located near Highway 146 at Spur 330, ABC 13 reported.
Here’s a photo shared on a Reddit thread about the fire:
Some residents are pointing out that there have been a lot of fires at chemical plants in the Houston region recently.
A chemical fire in March in Houston was also at an ExxonMobil plant. In June, Harris County sued ExxonMobil, accusing them of violating the Clean Air Act and sought temporary and permanent injunctions over future unauthorized emissions, the Houston Chronicle reported. The civil suit was filed to ensure compliance, attorney Rock Owens told the Houston Chronicle at the time. An Exxon Mobil advisor said, in response to a county violation notice, that as soon as a furnace tube leak was discovered, they started taking steps to reduce feed rates. That fire started in a corroded tube.
Some people said it sounded like an explosion when the fires started, but the cause of the fire has not been shared. According to ExxonMobil’s website, the Baytown Olefins plant has been operating since 1979 and “is one of the largest ethylene plants in the world.”
This is a developing story.