(Reuters) - An explosion set off a huge fire at Valero Energy Corp's
225,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Texas City, Texas, refinery on Thursday
afternoon but the fire was quickly contained, according the City of
Texas City Emergency Management office.
injuries were reported and the blaze, which was burning light
hydrocarbons, was contained about an hour and a half after it broke out,
Texas City Emergency Management said.
familiar with plant operations said the explosion at about 5 p.m. (6
p.m. EDT/2200 GMT) was on a 12,000-bpd alkylation unit. It was unclear
if other units had been affected.
Alkylation units convert refining by-products into high-octane components blended into gasoline.
spokeswoman Lillian Riojas said the company was cooperating with local,
state and federal agencies in responding to the fire, which was being
fought by the refinery's firefighting team.
this time, Valero has very little information as to the cause of the
fire," Riojas said. "Our primary concern is for the safety of our
units from Texas City and the neighboring Marathon Petroleum Corp
refinery were called to the Valero plant, the sources said.
at the Valero and Marathon refineries, adjacent to each other on the
south side of Texas City, were told to shelter-in-place, though no such
order was issued for the entire city, 42 miles (68 km) south of Houston.
explosion was heard 5 miles (8 km) away from the Valero refinery and
rocked buildings within a mile (1.6 km) of the plant, according to local
City was the site of the deadliest industrial explosion in U.S. history
when on April 16, 1947, a ship carrying more than 2,000 tons of
ammonium nitrate blew up, setting off blasts on other ships and nearby
oil storage tanks and killing 581 people.
deadliest U.S. refinery explosion in the 21st Century took place on
March 23, 2005, at the BP Plc Texas City refinery (now owned by
Marathon), killing 15 workers and injuring 180 people.