Fire/Explosion Protection

Explosion Kills One, Injures Others At Texas Chemical Plant

By Chemical Processing Staff

Apr 03, 2019

Officials at KMCO chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, have identified the worker who was killed in an April 2 explosion that sent workers running. James Earl "Bubba" Mangum was killed in the blast; two other employees were critically injured.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board said April 3 it will be investigating the incident.

According to an ABC News story, workers at the plant said they were warned of a leak and were ordered to evacuate just moments before a series of explosions erupted followed by the massive blast.

"Just run, that’s it," plant worker Randy Villalobos told local news station KTRK. "It was scary. Very scary. Everybody that was around me was running."

The fire, ignited by a flammable gas called isobutylene, marked the third time in 17 days that the Houston-area was rocked by an incident at a chemical facility.

KMCO President John C. Foley apologized to the Crosby community during a news conference for the disruption and alarm the fire caused.

“It is with great sadness I stand before you today mourning the loss of a cherished member of our KMCO family,” Foley said. “Our hearts go out to them and our loved ones. … Our number one priority is safety and compliance.”

According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, KMCO produces coolant and brake fluid products for the automotive industry, as well as chemicals for the oil field industry. Its facility, which has a history of environmental and workplace safety issues, sits about 13 miles away from the ITC plant, where Harris County officials continued to detect carcinogenic benzene this week.

KMCO spokeswoman Pilar Davis said the fire initially began when isobutylene caught fire, which spread to a warehouse containing ethanol and ethyl acetylene, which are used in the production of fuel additives.

Read the entire Houston Chronicle article here.