An explosion struck a polypropylene and olefins plant operated by British Petroleum plc's Innovene unit in Alvin, Texas, late on Aug. 10.
BP spokesman Scott Dean said that no one was seriously injured in the blast, which happened just before 10 p.m. A company firefighter was treated at a local hospital for heat exhaustion, Dean said.
The fire was still burning early Aug. 12 but was ``well under control,'' according to Innovene spokesman Ben Moxham. The blast and fire were contained in an ethylene production unit and did not affect the plant's PP production area, Moxham said. The plant, known as the Chocolate Bayou Chemicals Complex, operates three major PP production lines and employs 400.
Innovene has not declared force majeure on ethylene and plans on meeting customer orders for the material through ``other acquisition channels,'' Moxham said.
There was no measured environmental impact from the incident, according to Dean. Moxham said that those living in the residential area closest to the plant - more than two miles away - were asked to stay in their homes in the immediate aftermath, but that request was lifted by Aug. 11.
The cause of the explosion remains unknown, since Innovene investigators have been unable to fully access the site. Moxham said the company will conduct a full investigation.
In May, Innovene completed an expansion that added 650 million pounds of annual ethylene capacity in Alvin. The explosion occurred in the plant's older, smaller ethylene unit, not the one recently expanded. The unit's annual ethylene capacity is 1.9 billion pounds; combined annual PP/olefins capacity at the site is almost 5 billion pounds.
Innovene was spun off from BP in April and immediately opened a world headquarters in Chicago. London-based BP is pursuing either a sale or initial public offering for the Innovene unit, which has annual sales of $15 billion.