Explosions rocked the city of Mont Belvieu around noon central time on Tuesday. The explosions were due to malfunctions at a chemical plant owned by Enterprise Products. The blast could be felt miles away from the chemical plant, and resulted in huge flames that could be seen from the downtown Houston area. The explosion destroyed most of the Mont Belvieu processing plant, and several vehicles parked nearby.
The facility that caught fire was used primarily for separating natural gas into its liquid components. Enterprise has a decent safety record, with their last major accident occurring six years ago when an employee was killed in another Texas facility in Mirando City. None of the employees accounted for at the Texas chemical plant reported having any injuries. A spokesperson for Enterprise Products reported later in the evening that they still had a missing employee.
Firefighters arrived promptly on the scene and attended to the flames. The flames, fueled by a butane-carrying pipeline that was ripped open by the explosions, was left to burn out on its own. A state of emergency was not declared by Chambers County officials, and, besides the closure of state highway 146, many things went on as usual around the city.
Whenever disasters like this happen, the first thing that normally comes to mind is the effects the pollutants burned will have on local communities. Fortunately for Mont Belvieu residents, FOX Houston reported winds will be working in their favor, blowing the smoke from the fire away from local schools. Although officials from the chemical processing plant claim none of the chemicals being burned are toxic, residents of Mont Belvieu and other nearby areas are worried about unforeseen side effects the flames might have on them.
The fire will also have investors watching energy prices closely. Enterprise is one of the largest natural gas companies in the country, processing around 305,000 barrels of natural gas products from the plant in Mont Belvieu alone. With energy prices already climbing up gradually in the past few weeks, the Feb. 8 explosions will probably worry investors enough to raise prices.
The next few weeks will be crucial for Enterprise Products, as more information on the explosion emerges. Any information indicating negligence on the part of plant officials will likely turn residents of Mont Belvieu and surrounding areas against them.
Michelle Homer, ” One missing after multiple explosions, fire at Mont Belvieu plant ” khou.com
Mike Morris and Tom Fowler, ” Plant burns in Mont Belvieu ” Houston chronicle
Kristin Kane, ” Large petrochemical plant fire in Mont Belvieu ” Fox Houston