KMCO Chemical Plant Explosion: Leak Detected Before Deadly Blast

Earlier today, firefighters in Crosby, Texas battled a fire at the KMCO chemical plant in east Harris County. As a thick black plume towered over the area, authorities ordered residents and schools to shelter in place. The blast killed one person, and an additional two workers were airlifted to nearby hospitals. Authorities haven't released the condition of these two individuals.

Eye Witnesses Retell Frightening Escape from Blast Zone

The fire started around 10:55 a.m. and the fire marshal’s office tweeted that crews extinguished the fire at 4:20 p.m. Now, responders are monitoring the plant for signs of hot spots which could reignite a fire. Currently, authorities are working with KMCO to determine the cause of the explosion. Interviews with workers who were present at the scene of the explosion are providing a glimpse at the possible cause of the deadly accident—they said a leak was detected shortly before the blast.

ABC 13 interviewed several KMCO employees who described their harrowing escape after detecting the leak. The workers scattered to escape the impending blast, with some climbing locked fences to escape to safety.

"It was very frightening," said KMCO employee Justin Trahan. "I've got to say I've only worked in plants for a few years. After that incident in Houston a few weeks ago, it actually started bugging me because this is our profession. This is what we do. But it's just always something that happens elsewhere.”

Is Texas Doing Enough to Protect the Public from Chemical Fires?

This incident comes just under three weeks after the Intercontinental Terminals Company’s Deer Park facility burned for four days. The blaze burned 11 of 15 tanks at the chemical plant, causing nearby residents to be concerned about air quality. Officials are currently investigating the cause of this accident and its impact on the environment.

The Environmental Protection Agency said that real-time air monitoring by the agency has not yet found dangerous amounts of toxic substances released by the fire. However, with two significant chemical plant fires in less than three weeks, safety advocates are worried that Houston-area chemical plants are alarmingly underregulated.

In a statement following the KMCO plant explosion, Elena Craft, a senior director at the Environmental Defense Fund, stated that "Texas is failing to protect people from chemical fires and explosions and rogue releases of toxic air pollution. It is untenable.”

Arnold & Itkin’s chemical plant explosions attorneys will continue to monitor new developments with this story.

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