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 chemical plant.
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.