The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Second Houston-Area Chemical Plant Fire in Weeks Kills One, Injures Two
One person has died and two have been critically injured in the second fire to break out at a Houston-area chemical plant in little more than two weeks.
The fire started Tuesday at the KMCO plant in Crosby, Texas when a transfer line ignited near a tank of the flammable gas isobutylene, the Associated Press reported. Workers rushed to escape the blaze by climbing over a fence, and a cloud of black smoke billowed into the air.
"It shook everybody's house around here," Samantha Galle, who lives about a mile away from the plant, told the Associated Press.
The incident follows a fire at an Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) plant in Deer Park on March 17. That fire did not injure anyone, but it did burn for several days, prompting air quality warnings.
"It is disturbing and it is problematic that we're seeing this incident in a facility, especially on the heels of ITC," Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said in a media briefing.
The Crosby fire was extinguished after a five-and-a-half hour battle by firefighters, according to the fire marshal's office. A shelter-in-place order for those within a mile of the fire was lifted around 3 p.m. It had included a mandate that people close windows and turn off air conditioning units, NBC News reported.
Initial U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tests indicate that the air is safe.
"We have not seen any detections at action levels," EPA on-scene coordinator Matt Loesel told CNN.
The two workers who were injured were taken by helicopter to a hospital.
"Our hearts and prayers go out to the individuals involved, as well as our first responders, employees, and our community," KMCO president John C. Foley told CNN. "We apologize for any inconvenience to residents in the vicinity. The well-being of our people, neighbors and the environment remain our top priorities."
However, NBC News reported that the KMCO plant has a history of environmental violations:
- A 2018 EPA report found violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which covers the handling of hazardous materials and non-hazardous solid waste.
- EPA inspections also found violations of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts
- KMCO settled with Harris County in 2009 when it was sued for discharging waste water polluted with excess levels of ammonia, zinc and copper, among other toxins.
- Harris County sued KMCO again over state air and water violations in 2017.
- First Responders Sickened by Toxic Fumes Sue Chemical Plant ... ›
- Arkema Plant Explosion Sparks Criticism of Trump EPA Relaxing ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Elizabeth Pratt
- Hormel, Kellogg's, and Kroger are among the large companies now planning to offer "fake meat" products at grocery stores.
- Experts say the trend toward plant-based meats coincides with consumers' desires to eat less meat.
- However, experts urge consumers to closely check package labels as a product isn't necessarily healthy just because it's described as plant-based.
In grocery stores and fast-food outlets around the U.S., a revolution is taking place.
Many of us think of the Amazon as an untouched wilderness, but people have been thriving in these diverse environments for millennia. Due to this long history, the knowledge that Indigenous and forest communities pass between generations about plants, animals and forest ecology is incredibly rich and detailed and easily dwarfs that of any expert.
By Wesley Rahn
Plastic byproducts were found in 97 percent of blood and urine samples from 2,500 children tested between 2014 and 2017, according to a study by the German Environment Ministry and the Robert Koch Institute.
Medically reviewed by Daniel Bubnis, MS, NASM-CPT, NASE Level II-CSS
Hot yoga has become a popular exercise in recent years. It offers many of the same benefits as traditional yoga, such as stress reduction, improved strength, and flexibility.
The Trump administration has initialized the final steps to open up nearly 1.6 million acres of the protected Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge to allow oil and gas drilling.