Chemical Plant Fire Put Out After Three Days

An olefins unit burns in a fire at Shell Deer Park, Texas chemical plant in this screengrab obtained from social media on May 5, 2023, in Deer Park, Texas, U.S. | Image by Johnny Walea via TMX/via REUTERS

A fire that burned for three days at a Shell Company chemical plant in Deer Park, Texas, was extinguished on Sunday.

The fire began on Friday afternoon during “routine maintenance” due to the exchange of heat between two heavy oils, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said, per The Houston Chronicle. Officials reported that the fire was extinguished on Saturday morning, but it reignited on Saturday around 3 p.m.

A Shell official spoke at a news conference and said the company was currently focused on avoiding another reignition. The official claimed Shell would investigate the cause once the company confirmed the fire would not reignite.

“Our priority right now is to continue with the response and ensure we don’t have a reignition of the fire. Once that’s complete, we will begin an investigation,” the official said, per The Houston Chronicle.

There were no injuries due to the reignition of the fire on Saturday, but nine people were sent to the hospital on Friday to test for chemical exposure. All nine were contractors and have since been released.

Shell Deer Park Chemicals tweeted that the nearby neighborhoods were not in danger but that those in the surrounding area might notice smoke from the fire.

“There is no danger to the nearby community, however residents and neighbors may notice black smoke, flaring and increased noise from the facility,” read the tweet.

Jennifer Hadayia, executive director of Air Alliance Houston, denounced the statement, alleging that such statements were shallow attempts to mitigate the incident.

“History has shown that these early statements are for the benefit of industry public relations and not public health,” said Hadayia, per Reuters.

Water was sprayed in an attempt to keep the equipment cool and avoid another reignition. The water runoff exceeded the plant’s wastewater capacity and was “being directed to the Houston Ship Channel as part of a controlled discharge,” tweeted Shell Deer Park Chemicals.

Support our non-profit journalism

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *