Two contractors were killed and three men were injured in an explosion Wednesday morning at Phillips Petroleum Co.'s K-Resin plant in its chemical complex in Pasadena, Texas.
An alarm sounded at 11:30 a.m. when the blast occurred and a fire erupted, Earl Borths, the plant's industrial relations director, said in a June 24 telephone interview from his Houston office.
It took more than an hour for Phillips' onsite fire department to extinguish the blaze. Though local fire departments were standing by to help, Phillips was able to contain the fire using its own equipment, he said.
Juan Martinez Jr., a 24-year-old maintenance mechanic, and Jose Rangel, a 41-year-old pipe fitter, were killed in the explosion, suffering severe burns, said Cathy Green, vice president of public affairs for Zachry Construction Corp.
The two men worked for San Antonio-based Zachry, which has a standing contract with Phillips to provide industrial maintenance services, she said. Martinez had worked for Zachry for four years and Rangel was a 16-year veteran of the company, Green said.
A 38-year-old Zachry employee had minor burns but returned to work today after being treated and released at a local hospital, she added. A contractor from another company and a Phillips employee also were treated and released for minor burns, Borths said.
Green said there were several Zachry employees in the area conducting hydrostatic testing when the blast occurred. The K-Resin plant was shut down immediately and a company investigation began. Occupational Safety and Health Administration representatives arrived early Thursday to conduct their own investigation, he said.
The cause of the fire had not been determined by press time.
Borths said he is unsure how long the investigation will take or the amount of time the plant will be shut down. However, there is enough K-Resin in stock to meet client orders for a while, he added.
``We believe we'll be able to fill our customer orders. We don't expect any of those to be affected,'' Borths said.
Phillips is a large supplier of K-Resin styrene butadiene copolymer, which is used to make clear plastic products such as toys, medical items, and flexible and rigid packaging. Its plant has a capacity of about 370 million pounds per year.
In 1989, an explosion at Phillips' high density polyethylene plant in Pasadena killed 23 people and injured 314. Damages from that fire were estimated at $750 million to $1 billion.