Chemical Explosion at Texas Refinery: ‘Too Close for Comfort’

One person was airlifted to Houston, another sustained a broken arm — firefighters and first responders were quick to respond

A chemical explosion rocked a southeast Texas refinery beginning at 1 a.m. on Wednesday morning in Port Neches.

No one was killed, but at least three employees of the facility were treated for injuries.

One was airlifted to Houston for burns, another sustained a broken arm, and a third suffered an unspecified injury.

All have since been treated and released, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Firefighters and other local first responders were quick to arrive on the scene.

Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick told NBC News, “We are very, very thankful that, from preliminary reports, there are no fatalities,” Branick said, adding that water cannons deployed at the blast site “suppressed the flames significantly.”

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This tweet shows the blaze.

Jacob Abshire, a local resident, said on Facebook on Wednesday, “It woke us up, sounded like a freight train coming through the house.”

Damage to the town of Port Neches, which has a population of about 13,000, and the neighboring Groves was widespread; residents of both were ordered to evacuate by cautious local authorities after a second explosion at the refinery at about 2 p.m.

The explosion blew out windows and damaged property several miles away from the epicenter.

No release of toxic fumes or dangerous chemicals into the local environment was reported.

Local officials and Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas are closely monitoring the situation.

Port Neches is about 90 miles east of Houston.

Texas Petroleum Chemical, the owner of the site, said on its website that all 175 workers and 50 contractors had been accounted for and evacuated.

Thirty people were working at the plant at the time of the initial explosion.

The site includes 218 acres of land.

Port Neches Police Chief Paul Lemoine told USA Today, “There’s extensive damage throughout the city … We are doing everything we can to keep everyone safe and informed.”

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David Kamioner
meet the author

David Kamioner is a veteran of U.S. Army Intelligence and an honors graduate of the University of Maryland's European Division. He also served with the Pershing Nuclear Brigade and the First Infantry Division. Subsequent to that he worked for two decades as a political consultant, was part of the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort in Louisiana, ran a homeless shelter for veterans in Philadelphia, and taught as a college instructor. He serves as a Contributing Editor for LifeZette.

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