Large explosion rocks Texas chemical plant

BSS : An explosion at a chemical plant in
Texas early Wednesday sent a large fireball into the sky, reports and
witnesses said, triggering a mandatory evacuation.

Dramatic videos and photos shared on social media showed a large blast,
with one resident describing waking up to a huge boom and “glass all over
us”.

Ryan Mathewson, who lives roughly two minutes from the plant in Port
Neches, near Houston, told AFP: “We woke up to glass all over us and parts of
the ceiling caved in, (and) doors blown in.”

The 25-year-old said he and his family were “shook up and scared” following
the blast.

County Judge Jeff Branick told local news site KFDM News that there were no
fatalities reported and only three people with minor injuries. He called it
“a miracle”.

At least two people have been taken to hospital, a spokeswoman for the
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office told the New York Times.

“Please be aware that there is a mandatory evacuation for everyone within a
1/2 mile of the TPC plant in Port Neches,” local fire officials said in a
post on the Nederland Volunteer Fire Department’s Facebook page.

TPC Group, which operates the plant, said the explosion happened in what it
said was a “processing unit” at around 1am local time (0700 GMT).

“TPC Group has activated its Emergency Response Plan and requested
assistance from Port Neches Fire Department and Huntsman.

“The event is ongoing, but will be brought under control as quickly and
safely as possible.

“At this time, personnel at the site have been evacuated. We have accounted
for all site personnel and three personnel have sustained injuries and are
being treated.

“Right now our focus is on protecting the safety of responders and the
public, and minimizing any impact to the environment.”

The Port Neches plant is around 85 miles (135 kilometers) from Houston.

More than 200 people work at the facility, according to TPC Group’s company
website.

The facility produces butadiene, a flammable gas used in the production of
synthetic rubber, and other petrochemicals such as butane.

A shelter for those forced from their homes has been opened at a church in
Nederland, local media said.

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