PORT NECHES, Texas - More than 24 hours after an explosion at the TPC Group facility in Port Neches, a fire is still burning at the plant.
The plant first exploded at 1 a.m. Wednesday, sending a ball of fire into the air and a plume of thick black smoke. The windows of nearby homes were blown out. Three workers were injured and five other people in the vicinity were reportedly hurt by broken glass.
There have been smaller explosions since the first one. The Jefferson County judge says there have been three “significant” ones, the latest occurring at about 2 p.m. Wednesday.
Port Neches and Groves are under a mandatory evacuation of a 4-mile radius from the plant. A shelter was established at Ford Park in Beaumont.
The plant in Port Neches, about 80 miles east of Houston near the Louisiana state line, makes chemical and petroleum-based products. According to TPC, the processing unit that was involved contained butadiene, which is a chemical component used in the making of synthetic rubber.
According to TPC, several agencies including the Jefferson Count Judge, the Jefferson County Office of Emergency Management, Environmental Protection Agency, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and TPC Group have been integrated into the response effort.
In a statement Thursday morning, TPC said the event is still ongoing and emergency response crews remain on-site working to manage the incident.
“The Company continues to work closely with the county and Emergency Response Personnel to get this situation under control as safely and as quickly as possible and to prevent further impacts,” TPC said in the statement.
The company says they are working with local and state agencies for air quality monitoring, and there are 20 air monitoring stations across the region as well as routine fence line monitoring. They say the results continue to show no actionable levels.
“TPC Group remains focused on protecting the safety of responders and the public and minimizing any impact to the environment,” the company said in a statement.
TPC Group has established a Community Assistance Helpline for area residents who have been impacted by the incident. Affected community members can contact the TPC Community Assistance Helpline at 866-601-5880 to file a claim with the company’s insurance provider. A website has been established and information will be updated and available at www.portnechesresponse.com.