Port Neches explosion: 60,000 evacuated from homes after Texas chemical plant blast

Flames are seen after a massive explosion that sparked a blaze at a Texas petrochemical plant: REUTERSFlames are seen after a massive explosion that sparked a blaze at a Texas petrochemical plant: REUTERS
Flames are seen after a massive explosion that sparked a blaze at a Texas petrochemical plant: REUTERS

A series of explosions at a chemical plant forced some 60,000 people to be evacuated from the area surrounding Port Neches in Texas.

The first blast occurred at 1am on Wednesday, injuring three workers who are now in hospital. TPC Group, which operates the plant, confirmed all other employees have been accounted for.

Debris from the explosions have caused “extensive damage” throughout the city, police said, with residents telling local news that their doors and windows were blown out from the impact.

A second huge explosion took place on Wednesday afternoon, followed by a number of smaller explosions throughout the day.

Residents up to 30 miles away from the TCP Group plant, which makes products for chemical and petroleum companies, felt the blasts shaking their homes.

The evacuation zone covers a 4 mile radius of the plant, including the towns of Port Neches, Groves, parts of Nederland, and Port Arthur.

According to the latest incident update on the TPC Group website, emergency responders are still working to get the blaze under control but could not say how long the site may burn for.

They said: “TPC Group sincerely remains focused on protecting the safety of responders and the public and minimising any impact to the environment.”

Crystal Holmes, from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, told CNN the fires are now contained on the plant site, but “it’s not under control”.

Concerns have been raised about smoke rising from the chemical plant, but the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality say toxic levels are “well below concentrations of health concern or odorous levels”.

But the commission’s executive director, Toby Baker, told Reuters there was an “unacceptable trend of significant incidents” in Texas.

Since March, there have been at least three major incidents involving petrochemical producers and storage facilities in the region, including a fire at an Exxon mobile Corp chemical plant that left 37 people injured.

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