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Potential Contamination Concerns Persist Following Shell Deer Park Chemical Plant Fire

Posted on May 9, 2023 in

Questions remain regarding the aftereffects of a massive fire at the Shell Deer Park chemical plant. Governmental officials and representatives of the Shell facility suggest that the public currently is not at risk from toxic substances contained in the looming black smoke plume rising above the plant for a few days. In addition, these individuals further maintain that no immediate risk to the community exists associated with potentially contaminated water runoff from the facility associated with fighting the intense blaze. Nonetheless, air, water, and soil are being closely monitored by different agencies to determine the degree of possible contamination.

Number of Workers Transported to Hospitals Increases from Two to Nine

In the immediate aftermath of what was described as the Shell Deer Park chemical plant explosion fire, officials reported that two workers had been transported to area hospitals. Ultimately, a total of nine workers were taken to medical centers as a result of injuries sustained in the incident.

The names of the injured workers have not been released. The specific condition of the workers has not been made available to the public. However, these individuals have not suffered life-threatening injuries and they all evidently are in good condition as of this time. In fact, it appears that all nine workers have been discharged from the hospital.

Dangerous Fire Reignites at Deer Park Chemical Plant

The initial chemical reaction that caused a massive fire at the Shell Deer Park chemical plant occurred on Friday, May 6, 2023, forcing complete evacuation of the expansive facility. By Saturday morning, firefighters and others reported that the blaze had been extinguished.

The report of successfully dealing with the large-scale fire was short lived. The fire at the facility reignited again on Saturday. Less intense and smaller in scope, the reignited blaze nonetheless necessitated a coordinated and concentrated effort by firefighters to again bring the intense burn under control. By Saturday evening, the fire appeared to have again been extinguished. As of Sunday and Monday, no reignition of the blaze had occurred.

Heavy Smoke Plume and Surface Discharge of Contaminated Water Create Concerns

As mentioned a moment ago, the heavy smoke plume and the surface distance of water do present environmental and health concerns. History demonstrates that smoke plumes and discharged water associated with a chemical plant explosion or fire can have a lingering negative impact on the health and wellbeing of workers and members of the public alike.

Water runoff initially was being contained in retaining ponds at the Shell Deer Park chemical plant site. Ultimately, those retaining ponds reached capacity and potentially contaminated runoff water was released into the Houston Ship Channel.

Cause of Shell Deer Park Chemical Plant Fire Pinpointed

Initial reports from witnesses to the Shell Deer Park chemical plant fire indicated that the blaze resulted from an explosion at the facility. Upon investigation, officials are now reporting that the cause of the chemical plant fire is more complex. While the technical cause of the incident resulted in an event that appeared to be a chemical plant explosion, the fierce fire actually ignited as the result of what is being described as a “heat exchange” between two heavy gas oils that occurred in a particular unit at the Shell Deer Park chemical plant. Although technically not an explosion, the heat exchange did have the outward appearance of a blast, including the noise typically associated with an accidental detonation.

The sudden blaze erupted at the chemical plant in what is known as an olefins unit. Olefins are classified as chemical compounds produced in chemical plants and oil refineries, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Olefins are proverbial building blocks for a range of petroleum derived products that can include:

  • Solvents
  • Adhesives
  • Detergents

Legal Rights Following a Chemical Plant Fire

Workers and others exposed to the hazards associated with an incident like the Shell Deer Park chemical plant fire have important legal rights that they may need to assert in order to protect their interests. The Doan Law Firm, a nationwide law practice headquartered in Houston, is monitoring the situation in Deer Park. If you have any questions or concerns, you can connect with The Doan Law Firm any time of the day or night by calling us at (800) 349-0000. There is no charge for a consultation with a Texas chemical plant accident lawyer from our firm. Indeed, The Doan Law Firm never charges a fee unless we win your case for you.