Shell Chemical LP said May 8 that it continues to respond to hot spots after a fire that originally ignited May 5 at its Deer Park Chemicals plant in Texas was reignited by remaining product and subsequently extinguished May 7.
During routine maintenance at the olefins unit May 5, a fire ignited cracked heavy gas oil, cracked light gas oil, and gasoline.
The US Coast Guard, Texas General Land Office, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and other authorities are jointly responding to the incident.
Large amounts of water used to control the fire exceeded on-site wastewater storage capacity, and runoff was directed to the Houston Ship Channel as part of a controlled discharge with boom deployed to prevent any product from entering the channel, the company said in a May 7 update. After heavy rain, a light sheen was observed in a small slip located outside of the precautionary boom and clean-up crews have been deployed to the area.
With the fire now extinguished, Shell is using less water to manage the hot spots and has closed the valve, eliminating discharge to the Houston Ship Channel. Water continues to be added to nearby retention ponds as the company continues to cool equipment.
Air monitoring is ongoing and has not detected any harmful levels of chemicals affecting neighboring communities, Shell said.
The cause of the fire will be the subject of a future investigation.