Emergency crews were dispatched to a chemical processing plant in east
Harris County, Texas, about 25 miles northeast of Houston, in the late
morning hours of April 2. The plant is located in Crosby, Texas. An explosion
was reported at the Crosby chemical plant.
Directly after the incident, officials with Harris County reported that
two people at the Crosby chemical plant were injured in the initial explosion.
Officials did use the term “initial explosion” without further
elaboration. The extent of injuries suffered by these individuals was
not provided by officials. With that said, a flight for life emergency
helicopter was at the plant within minutes after the explosion to transport
at least one injured person to an area medical center.
Local officials and plant managers have not issued any information about
whether there were any fatalities at the facility. In addition, there
is no additional information on whether there have been other injuries
at the site beyond the two employees initially reported. At this time,
no one outside of the plant has been reported to be impacted by the explosion
and airborne emissions from the facility.
The status of other employees at the facility is not yet known. No information
has been released about whether workers at the plant are being kept on
site or evacuated. Some personnel certainly are involved in the process
of fire containment at the plant.
The plant is owned and operated by KMCO, a specialty chemical manufacturing
and processing facility. KMCO supplies specialty chemicals to some of
the largest companies in the world.
Crosby Plant Explosion Environmental Hazards
Residents and community officials in the area of the KMCO chemical processing
and storage facility reported hearing a loud explosion followed by the
quick rise of a plume of black smoke. The explosion and smoke came from
the area of East Ramsey Road and Crosby-Dayton Road, the location of the
In short speed, a second plume of gray smoke was seen arising above the
Crosby chemical plant. The black smoke quickly expanded into what was
described as a “huge plume” rapidly migrating upward and outward.
Within minutes of the reported explosion, the Harris County Sheriff closed
off all roadways leading to the KMCO chemical plant. In addition, students
in all schools in Crosby Independent School District and the neighboring
Sheldon Independent School District have been ordered to shelter in place.
Students will not be permitted to exit schools, even into the care of
their parents, as long as the shelter in place order is in place. No time
frame has been established for how long students will be kept inside area schools.
The shelter in place order issued out of concern for the student’s
safety. Because the explosion was at the KMCO chemical plant, concerns
exist as to what chemicals may be emitted into the air in the growing
plume above the facility. KMCO does manufacture and maintain potentially
hazardous chemicals at the Crosby chemical plant.
No longer than a half an hour the school containment order was issued,
all residents of Crosby were ordered to shelter in place. Residents in
other areas near Crosby are also likely to be directed to shelter in place.
As of the time the shelter in place directives issued, there was no data
on how the emissions from the chemical plant explosion (or explosions)
were impacting air quality. Harris County health officials undoubtedly
have begun the process of monitoring area air quality; however, results
of that process are not likely to be available for a matter of hours.
As was noted, because the KMCO facility does maintain dangerous, hazardous
chemicals on site, the prospect that dangers contaminants are being dispersed
into the atmosphere is real.
No cause for the explosion has yet been reported. No information has been
released on the containment of the resulting fire and the status of the facility.
The Crosby chemical plant explosion is the second such incident of this
nature in the Houston area. Two weeks prior to the KMCO facility explosion,
a massive and difficult to control blaze occurred at a petrochemical plant
in the Houston area, a fire that engulfed a considerable portion of that facility.