A large fire was burning at an ExxonMobil refinery plant in Baytown, about 25 miles east of Houston,Texas, Wednesday after an explosion.
The facility processes light hydrocarbons including propane and propylene, materials used to make plastic and industrial products and is one of the largest ethylene plants in the world. The fire sent large plumes of black smoke into the sky. 66 people were sent for medical evaluation. Jason Duncan, manager of the ExxonMobil plant, described the injuries as minor burns. None of those injured required hospitalization, according to ExxonMobil. When it comes to the health impacts of the gas, vapors may cause dizziness or asphyxiation without warning.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality was on scene monitoring for air quality issues, but did not report any concerning contaminants. All employees at the plant had been accounted for. The facility is one of eight plants that ExxonMobil agreed to retrofit with anti-pollution technology in a settlement with the U.S. government. The fire was contained about 5:35 p.m. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted that his department is monitoring the situation. The cause of the fire is under investigation. „Our first priority remains the safety of people, including our employees, contractors and the surrounding community,” the company said. This is the second time within a few months that a fire has broken out at an ExxonMobil plant. That previous incident occurred in March.