Chemical plant explosion in Texas leads to shelter-in-place order

November 9, 2023

Chemical plant incident in rural Texas

A chemical plant in Shepherd, Texas, was the site of a large fire and subsequent explosion on Wednesday.

A substantial plume of smoke billowed into the sky following the incident, prompting officials to shut down a nearby highway and issue a shelter-in-place order for local residents.

The shelter order affected those within a one-mile radius of the fire and extended to surrounding communities for approximately five hours before being lifted in the early afternoon.

Investigation into the chemical plant explosion underway

The explosion occurred at Sound Resource Solutions, a company specializing in recycling and repackaging various chemicals.

An initial investigation suggested the explosion happened during the handling of a leaking chemical container.

An employee attempting to move the container with a forklift triggered the ignition. Sheriff Greg Capers of San Jacinto County reported the incident started with calls about an explosion around 8 a.m. at the facility.

One worker sustained minor burns and was hospitalized in stable condition.

The substances involved were identified as flammable liquids, potentially including diesel and turpentine.

Response and environmental concerns

Containment of the fire was achieved by Wednesday afternoon, with emergency services utilizing foam through ladder trucks to extinguish the blaze.

The chemicals produced at the plant, used in adhesives and paint removers, are known to be toxic and pose risks of eye and skin irritation.

Despite the smoke’s potential reach towards the Livingston area, as warned by local authorities, air quality monitors have not detected any harmful chemicals.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is monitoring the air and coordinating cleanup efforts with the plant’s management.

FSJA Comment

The incident at the Sound Resource Solutions plant is a stark reminder of the potential hazards inherent in the chemical industry.

The prompt and effective response of local emergency services in managing the fire and ensuring public safety demonstrates the critical importance of preparedness and safety protocols in such facilities.

With the rise in industrial activities, the risk of accidents underscores the need for continual improvement in safety measures, emergency response training, and public awareness programs.

Our focus on such events is to ensure that the lessons learned are applied to prevent future occurrences and that the wellbeing of employees and residents is prioritized.

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