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One dead, three hurt in blast at Port Arthur Chemical Plant

Posted: 04-01-11Category:

One person is dead and three others are hurt after an explosion and flash fire at a Southeast Texas chemical plant. The incident happened about 2 p.m. Thursday at the KMTEX plant near Port Arthur. Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy Rod Carroll tells KFDM-TV of Beaumont says the explosion reported involved gasoline that was being processed. Jefferson County Emergency Management Coordinator Greg Fountain tells KBMT-TV of Beaumont that a 500-barrel fuel tank exploded. Carroll said two of the injured workers were airlifted, one to Memorial Hermann Hospital and one to John Sealy Hospital in Galveston. Another was taken by ambulance to Christus St. Elizabeth hospital in Beaumont. Authorities will continue to investigate on Friday how a highly flammable solvent remained in a pipeline workers were welding Thursday at a Port Arthur chemical plant when it erupted in a deadly flash fire and blast.

Line was thought to be clear

Witnesses said one of the workers was welding a pipeline that contained coal tar naptha solvent when the fire occurred about 2 p.m.

Workers thought all of the solvent was evacuated from the line, said Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Deputy Rod Carroll.

When Port Arthur firefighters arrived shortly after 2:15 p.m. at the plant, the fire had burned out.

A byproduct of refined crude oil, naptha is highly flammable and can be ignited by heat, sparks and open flames, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

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