A fire at a plastics feedstocks plant operated by Shell Chemical in Deer Park, Texas, continued to burn on May 8, three days after it first broke out.
No major injuries have been reported from the fire, although nine contract employees were treated for exposure to chemicals, Shell officials said. The fire started around 3 p.m. May 5 while an olefins unit was undergoing routine maintenance, they added. The fire ignited cracked heavy gas oil, cracked light gas oil and gasoline.
Officials said the fire was extinguished May 7, but it reignited later that day. They said late on May 7 that the re-ignited fire still wasn't extinguished but has been contained to a controlled zone.
Earlier that day, officials said that wastewater containment was nearing capacity in on-site storage ponds. In preparation for incoming weather, runoff water was directed to the Houston Ship Channel as part of a controlled discharge.
As a precaution, a boom was deployed to prevent any product from entering the channel. The site continues to use a large amount of water to control the fire. Water continues to be added to nearby retention ponds with an expectation that when the fire is extinguished, large volumes will still be needed to cool equipment for up to 36 hours.
Shell officials said that air monitoring is ongoing and hasn't detected any harmful levels of chemicals affecting neighboring communities. No evacuation or shelter in place orders were issued.
"There is no danger to the nearby community, however residents and neighbors may notice black smoke, flaring and increased noise from the facility," they added. "Our immediate priorities remain the safety of people and the environment."
The cause of the fire will be the subject of a future investigation. Shell makes a wide range of chemicals at Deer Park, including olefins ethylene and propylene. The site also makes butylenes, phenol and acetone that are used in plastics production.