Six people were injured July 31 after an explosion and fire at an ExxonMobil Chemical Co. propylene and propane unit in Baytown, Texas.
In an email to Plastics News, an ExxonMobil spokeswoman said that the six injured workers were being treated for non-life-threatening injuries and that the firm was not aware of any other injuries. She added that the firm's emergency response teams were continuing to work to extinguish the fire as of 3 p.m. on July 31.
"Our first priority is people in the community and in our facilities," the company spokeswoman said. "Our Industrial Hygiene staff continues air quality monitoring at the site and fence line. Available information shows no adverse impact at this time."
The accident could have an impact on North American markets for polypropylene resin. The site has 1.4 billion pounds of annual production capacity for polymer-grade propylene (PGP), according to Chemical Data Inc., a Houston-based consulting firm. That amount represents 5 percent of regional PGP capacity, according to CDI. PGP is the key feedstock used to make PP.
ExxonMobil issued a shelter-in-place warning for the city of Baytown and for several area schools, according to the Houston Chronicle. A shelter-in-place warning advises people to stay indoors, keep doors and windows closed and turn off the air conditioning.
In an email, senior research analyst John Maselli of Houston's Wood MacKenzie consulting firm said that "at this time, it's difficult to gauge the full impact of the fire on the greater ExxonMobil Baytown complex."
"The duration and magnitude of the market impact will be determined by the extent of the damage and what units and chemical value chains are affected," he added. Wood Mackenzie estimates about 45 percent of ExxonMobil's installed U.S. chemical capacity is in Baytown.
In May, Houston-based ExxonMobil approved a $2 billion expansion project that would include major capacity expansions for elastomers and specialty olefins at Baytown, which is marking its 100th year as a production site.