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A powerful explosion followed by secondary blasts has hit TPC’s butadiene plant in Port Neches on 27 November early in the morning, according to local sources. Then, a giant fireball erupted into the air and shook homes more than 40 miles away, blowing out windows and knocking locked doors off hinges. Residents of the neighbouring state of Louisiana also felt the explosion accompanied by flames.
There were no fatalities. Three individuals, two employees and one contractor on the site were injured. The second explosion took place at the chemical plant about 13 hours after the first one.
At a Wednesday night news conference, the Jefferson County judge Jeff Branick said officials had been unable to determine the cause of the two explosions at the TPC Group plant earlier that day because of a power outage there. TPC is investigating the incident.
According to the company’s official information, it is a tank with finished butadiene at the South Processing Unit that exploded. Affected products include purchased crude C4s and processed butadiene and raffinate. The company is yet to determine the full impact on the plant, operations or financials. It is unclear now how long the plant will be non-operational.
TPC produces butadiene and raffinates, a mixture of butylenes and butane in particular, and stores MTBE on the Port Neches site. The production capacity of this facility is over 900 million lb (around 408,200 t) of chemicals per year, according to the company. Its logistical infrastructure includes pipelines, barges, railway and tank cars.
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