Fire at Shell Refinery in Deer Park, Houston; several injuries reported, US
A major fire wracked a refinery in a Deer Park industrial complex in Houston, Texas, US, jointly owned by Mexican oil company Pemex and Shell Chemicals on Friday, 5 May 2023. Plant fire crews responded and the plant began burning off oil through nearby flares. Multiple agencies also responded to the fire as well as fire fighters from nearby industrial departments, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said. The incident happened in the 5900 block of state Highway 225. The fire was reported at 14h52 and was on the Shell portion of the plant.
Shell advised that the fire would be contained within the facility and there was no threat to the public.
Pemex issued a statement saying the fire was not at one of its units and its emergency response team was assisting in battling the fire.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said earlier in the day that five contracted employees were hospitalized for precautionary reasons, adding that they were not burned. He said they were taken to a hospital due to heat exhaustion and proximity to the fire.
Shell Deer Park officials said on Twitter Friday night that they were continuing to respond to the fire, all workers were accounted for and nine workers had been released after undergoing precautionary medical evaluations.
Nothing exploded, Gonzalez said, although the sheriff's office initially responded to emergency calls saying there was an explosion.
The fire initially died down and was contained Saturday morning but it later reignited Saturday afternoon, city officials said. No additional injuries have been reported.
The cause of the fire was still being investigated. The fire started while the olefins unit was undergoing routine maintenance. Air monitoring for any impact from the fire was ongoing and had not detected any harmful levels of chemicals, Shell Deer Park said.
The product that ignited includes cracked heavy gas oil, cracked light gas oil and gasoline, Shell Deer Park said.
Olefins like ethylene, propylene and butadiene are used to make plastics and other products like detergent and rubber.
Shell sent ABC13 a statement regarding the lawsuit that reads, "We are aware that a lawsuit against Shell USA, Inc and Shell Chemical LP has been filed following the Shell Deer Park Chemicals Facility fire on May 5. A total of 15 contractors were taken to the hospital and released the same day after completing precautionary medical evaluations. Shell is committed to the safety and well-being of everyone at our facilities and the surrounding communities."
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