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Enterprise Products Natural Gas Plant Explodes in Mont Belvieu, Texas

Posted: 02-08-11Category:

UPDATE: The body of a contract worker missing after an explosion and fire at a Chambers County natural gas plant was recovered late Wednesday, officials said.

A search crew found the body of Richard Shaw at about 6:30 p.m., said Rick Rainey, a spokesman for Enterprise Products.

    An accident at noon Tuesday at the Mont Belvieu company produced a towering fireball that burned for hours before diminishing as the sun set.

Relatives of the 43-year-old Shaw said they had feared he died in the blast.

The fire burned out about 10 a.m. Wednesday, said Rainey. Rainey did not know how long plant repairs would take or how much they would cost the company.

Shortly after noon Tuesday a pipeline at the Enterprise Products natural gas plant in Mont Belvieu, Texas, just East of Houston, exploded sending balls of orange flames and thick black smoke into the sky. The company  tried to seclude the workers and may have tried to get them to sign statements before they release them to see their loved ones. This is the exact tactic used by BP after the explosion in the Gulf of Mexico last year. Workers and their families need to understand that they cannot be forced to sign anything and that if they are pressured to sign statements or releases by the company that they should consult their own attorney before signing anything. The facility in Chambers County is a natural gas fractionation facility, where natural gas liquids are separated into different components before being put into storage or injected into pipelines. It has a capacity of about 305,000 barrels of natural gas liquids per day. Recently, it has become an important hub to oil and gas producers in South Texas’ Eagle Ford shale formation, where large quantities of natural gas liquids are being extracted and processed for usage by Gulf Coast petrochemical plants and other customers. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has cited the plant 48 times over the past five years for permit violations, ranging from the inadequate monitoring of valves to the failure to prevent excess emissions during startup.It is believed that some employees vehicles which were parked inside the gates of the plant may have been damaged or destroyed. Houston-based Enterprise Products is one of the country's largest shippers and processors of natural gas in, including 49,100 miles of onshore and offshore pipelines.

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