AN Exxon Mobil oil refinery in Texas has been declared a “major industrial accident” after it went up in flames following an explosion.
Onlookers reported seeing massive clouds of smoke billowing out of the Baytown chemical plant at around 1am on Thursday, December 23.
What happened in the Exxon ‘explosion’ today?
Harris Country Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said in a tweet that an explosion had occurred inside the plant.
He said so far four people have been injured.
According to people near the explosion, there was a “boom” sound like a “freight train connecting with cars” outside their home, while others compared it to a “sonic wave”.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office tweeted: “Deputies are on the scene of a major industrial accident at 3525 Decker Dr. in Baytown. The Exxon/Mobile plant. Some injuries have been reported. Please avoid the area.”
The Baytown Fire Department told The Sun that its crews had not responded to the fire and confirmed a shelter-in-place order had not been issued.
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The cause of the blast remains unknown and it’s not known how far the fire has spread.
Has there been any previous Exxon explosions?
In 2019, an explosion caused a massive blaze in the area that processes polypropylene.
At least 37 people were injured and treated for non-life-threatening injuries, including first-degree burns.
The 3,400-acre complex was founded in 1919 and includes a 561,000-barrel-a-day refinery.
Baytown is located around 25 miles east of Houston, Texas.
What have Exxon said about the ‘explosion’?
In a statement, ExxonMobil said: “Around 1 a.m. on 12/23/2021, a fire occurred at our facility. At this time, emergency vehicles and smoke may be noticeable to the community.”
They added: “Our fire teams are working to extinguish the fire. We are conducting personnel accounting.
“Our first priority remains the safety of people, including our employees, contractors, and the surrounding community.
“As a precaution, our Industrial Hygiene staff is commencing air quality monitoring at the site and fence line.
“We are coordinating with authorities as appropriate. We deeply regret any disruption or inconvenience that this incident may have caused the community.”
They later said: “Our fire teams are working to extinguish the fire. We are conducting personnel accounting.”