What's the Problem?
The chemical plant explosion took place on November 8, 2023, at Sound Resource Solutions, a company that recycles and repackages various chemicals used to make glue and paint remover.
A preliminary investigation determined that the explosion occurred when an employee noticed a container leaking with chemicals and tried to use a forklift to lift the container, after which there was an ignition, according to CBS News [1.]. Initial reports indicated the chemicals involved in the fire were flammable liquids, including possibly diesel and turpentine. Authorities warned that chemicals from the plant are toxic and can cause eye and skin irritation.
The injured employee suffered minor burns to his body and was taken to a hospital, where he was in stable condition. Nineteen of the 37 employees who work for the plant were on duty at the time of the explosion, said San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers.
In response to the explosion, mobile air monitoring units were deployed to Shepherd, which is a mainly rural area located in San Jacinto County, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of Houston.
Authorities asked residents within a 1-mile radius of the chemical plant, as well as those in surrounding communities, to shelter in place for about 5 hours following the explosion. A private school with 31 children near the site of the explosion was safely evacuated through a pasture and the students have been reunited with their parents, Capers said.
Massive Chemical Plant Explosion Rocks Town of Shepherd, Texas: NBC News Video
The fire was contained by Wednesday afternoon, according to San Jacinto County Emergency Management. Fire crews worked with 2 ladder trucks to extinguish the fire with foam.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said it would continue to monitor the air and begin working with the chemical plant’s owner on cleaning up the site.
“We got a lot of work to do to figure out the incident itself,” Harfield said. “And I know people want answers. We’re going to get you answers, not speculation.”
Sound Resource Solutions has been operating since 2014 and while it operates “in a dangerous environment,” according to President Geoff Harfield, he and his employees are trained to handle hazardous chemicals he described as “the type of material you probably have under your kitchen sink.”
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