Monday, March 25, 2019

Petrochemical fire blocking the Houston Ship Channel

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Fallout from a petrochemical fire outside Houston continued for a sixth day on Saturday, with emergency workers struggling to remove volatile fuels from exposed tanks and ship traffic disrupted on the nation’s busiest oil port. 
A fire that burned for three days broke out last Sunday at Mitsui & Co’s Intercontinental Terminals Co site in Deer Park, Texas. It damaged or destroyed 11 giant tanks each holding up to 3 million gallons of fuels used to make gasoline and plastics. 
On Friday, flames again erupted for an hour and halted efforts to remove volatile fuels that leaked when a containment wall breached. There were no injuries reported on Friday.
According to this Houston Chronicle report from Sunday, the fire is out, but the Ship Channel is still closed. It will be interesting to see if this incident has any repercussions - I suppose I don't know what the baseline is for incidents with petrochemical fires in the Houston Ship Channel. 

5 comments:

  1. Of course it's going to have repercussions. Mitsui just gave ammunition to everyone who thinks we're a bunch of cartoon villains, pouring 55-gallon drums of toxic waste into rivers while cackling maniacally.

    I think Houston is starting to lose its advantage of being considered more business-friendly than the Northeast and Rust Belt. I haven't heard any follow-up on those Arkema executives being criminally charged after last summer's fire, but it's a sign that the demographics of the area are changing. The native Texans are being outnumbered by relocated Northeastern soccer moms, who are usually horrified to have a chemical plant nearby. Between this incident and the Arkema fire, there's going to be a public push for a crackdown on the Houston-area chemical industry. I think companies might decide that it's less hassle to upgrade an aging Rust Belt facility in place than to relocate to Texas.

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    1. Just saying, there's a difference between a controlled burn at a peroxide plant on a site far away from residential areas and commercial interests and a chemical storage facility near a shipping lane.

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  2. It's odd that your reaction to (presumably) a major safety failure is to bash "northeastern soccer moms".

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    1. Yeah, I noticed this too, bashing college-educated women with children for major safety failure.

      KT - What evidence do you have that college-educated women are driving the change amongst Texans towards the petrochemical industry?

      And I'll bet you, as a college-educated woman from the Northestern US - that these same women would look long and hard before they moved into a neighborhood next to a petrochemical facility.

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  3. Yes, in the Northeast we tend to build our schools in locations OTHER THAN RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET, with zoning regulations slightly more complex than "here, hold my beer." (e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Fertilizer_Company_explosion)

    as one of the local reporters pointed out on Twitter, there's a major chemical incident in the Houston area every six weeks:

    https://twitter.com/mizzousundevil/status/1107641696270077952

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