A polyethylene unit operated by Dow Chemical Co. in Freeport, Texas, was shut down April 3 after a release of ethylene feedstock.
No one was injured in the incident. The cause of the release is under investigation.
According to an April 3 report with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the site's process control computer initiated an emergency venting shutdown of the reactor.
Dow has more than 1.5 billion pounds of annual high/linear low density PE swing capacity in Freeport and 850 million pounds of low density PE capacity there. It was unclear if the unit shut down — Polyethylene 4 — made one or both of those materials.
A Dow spokeswoman said in an April 6 email that the unit “experienced a process upset.” She added that Midland, Mich.-based Dow does not provide comment on the duration of maintenance activities.
It's unclear how the event will impact regional PE supplies. North American PE prices have fallen in recent months as demand has softened and lower oil prices have affected the broader market.