Texas Town Rocked by Chemical Plant Explosion

A series of explosions sparked a massive fire at the Enterprise Products oil and gas facility, a chemical plant near Mont Belvieu, Texas, about 35 miles east of Houston. The fire is said to be burning out of control, but there are no reports of injuries.

The <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/Mont-Belvieu-Texas-Plant-Explosion-Fire-Lawsuit-Lawyer">Enterprise Products plant explosions started around 12:15 p.m. local time. The blasts were felt as far away as Anahuac and Crosby. The fire sparked flames that could be seen for seven miles, and thick black smoke filled the air. The flames engulfed a section of the plant, and several cars in the facility’s parking lot were also set ablaze. Fire crews are letting the blaze burn itself out.

Between 600 and 700 people work at the Enterprise Products plant. According to MSNBC, one person – a contractor at the plant – is unaccounted for. However, it has been reported that the individual was seen leaving the plant before the explosion.

Houston-based Enterprise is one of the country’s largest shippers and processors of natural gas,and owns 49,100 miles of onshore and offshore pipelines. According to the Houston Chronicle, the facility separates natural gas liquids into different components before storage or injection into pipelines. It has a capacity of about 305,000 barrels of natural gas liquids per day. It is s located north of the Houston Ship Channel and its row of crude oil refineries.

According to MSNBC, the flames were not near homes. The nearby Barbers Hill Independent School District ordered students to stay indoors as a precaution. Nearby streets were closed, but no evacuations have been ordered.

Mont Belvieu is a major natural gas storage and processing hub sitting atop a salt dome formation, where the natural gas industry stores more volatile hydrocarbons than anywhere else in the world, NBC News said. Explosions and gas leaks plagued the town throughout the early 1980s. In July 1986, water with five times the saltiness of ocean water crept into the drinking water supply. A coalition of area petrochemical companies bought out 200 families in the town later that year, NBC News said, and the center of the town was moved two miles down the road.

The Houston Chronicle said its preliminary search of Occupational Safety and Health Administration data does not find any incidents reported on this Enterprise facility. However, a worker was killed at another Enterprise Facility located in South Texas in June 2005. That incident involved an unexpected release of pressurized flammable material from a production compressor.

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