Fire erupts at ExxonMobil chemical plant in Baytown

Data pix.

Another fire at a local chemical plant— this one taking place at an ExxonMobil facility in Baytown.

Officials were able to get the fire contained after a few hours and the shelter-in-place order was lifted around 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Air monitoring was going on while the fire was burning and levels that we should be concerned with were not detected at the plant or in surrounding areas.

Exxon Mobil tells us a total 66 employees or contractors were examined at an occupational health clinic. Some first aid was administered, and thankfully, everyone was released.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said the county’s response has improved since the ITC and KMCO fires earlier this year.

This week at Harris County Commissioners Court, they received the results of a study they had done to analyze where the gaps are when it comes to the county’s response. Hidalgo said three main areas they want to improve on include the need for more monitoring, the county’s ability to communicate with the public, and better coordination across different agencies.

As they work to improve in those areas, she said they will also be pushing for change in state laws regarding chemical facilities.

“The facilities are not required to report their chemicals, but once a year and so some of it lies on changes in state laws that we need. We need some safeguards to make sure that we can truly coexist with the largest petrochemical complex in this hemisphere,” Hidalgo said.

As for the fire that happened on Wednesday, we don’t know yet what caused it. Several agencies are investigating including TCEQ and the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office.

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