Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Fire and Explosions at Houston Refinery

Photo by Dave Fehling/StateImpact Texas / StateImpact Texas

The Pasadena Refining System Inc. refinery in Pasadena, Texas

Blasts followed by a fire were reported at the Pasadena Refining System refinery in a suburb of Houston Saturday evening. The Associated Press says two were injured in the explosion, one of them with burns on his arm. The fire ignited in the refinery’s coker unit after “sludge at the bottom of a tank ignited, unleashing a fireball,” according to the report. The fire has been extinguished.

This is the second fire recently at the refinery. On September 30, a fire ignited at the plant’s crude unit, sending “thick black smoke” that could “be seen for miles,” according to local news reports. It wasn’t until November that the refinery fully returned to normal operations.

StateImpact Texas reported on the refinery last month. The Harris County Attorney said it planned to sue the plant over pollution. Several schools are near the refinery, most of them less than a mile away. An EPA watchlist shows that the refinery has been a “high priority violator” for five years. “In 2009, the refinery sent nearly a half million pounds of chemicals into the air,” Dave Fehling reported for StateImpact Texas, “more than in any of the previous eight years, according to an EPA report.”

StateImpact Texas has attempted to contact the company and will report more later if we hear back from them.

UPDATE: A spokesperson for Pasadena Refining Systems tells StateImpact Texas that there was only one injury from the fire, it has been fully extinguished and “no other process unit was impacted by the fire.” The company says that the refinery is running normally today.


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