“Controlled Exhaust” | Runoff from Shell chemical fire heading to Houston Ship Channel
Shell Deer Park Chemicals released a statement to the press on Sunday morning, stating that their wastewater storage capacity had been exceeded and they would be taking measures to prevent products from entering the surrounding channel. The company added that water was being added to nearby retention ponds and officials were still monitoring air quality as they expected they would need large volumes of water to cool equipment for up to 36 hours after the fire is out. No harmful levels of chemicals affecting the nearby communities have been detected, according to officials.
The fire at the chemical plant, which had been put out, reignited on Saturday afternoon and was still burning on Sunday morning. The company confirmed that nine contractors who had been exposed to a product during the major plant fire were released from the hospital on Friday night after getting precautionary treatment. There were no reports of serious injuries.
A shelter-in-place order was not issued, but the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality was monitoring the air quality near the plant. Shell released a statement at around 9.20pm on Friday, stating that the fire started around 3pm while routine maintenance was underway on the olefin unit. Harris County Fire Marshal Captain James Singleton said that his office would work over the weekend to investigate the incident, adding that they were looking at a large number of people who needed to be interviewed, including everyone who was in the unit at the time of the fire, controllers, management, and anyone who called 911.
Meanwhile, residents in the vicinity of the plant were advised to exercise caution and stay aware of developments. The company’s announcement has sparked concerns among local residents, many of whom have expressed their fears of the toxic chemicals spewing into the air and waterways. The incident is a stark reminder of the risks that accompany industrial activities and the need for utmost attention and safety measures.
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