Recently, a power plant in Port Neches, Texas exploded twice: once at midnight on Wednesday, and then again later that afternoon. This was the night before Thanksgiving. This meant that instead of prepping dinner for the next day, thousands were evacuated because of explosions, as well as the chemicals that spewed from the fire. According to the aforementioned source, they are not sure why the first explosion occurred. The second blast had to do with the fire caused by the first. The subsequent explosion ensued because the fire spread to other vulnerable parts of the fire.
Perhaps one of the biggest dangers of the plant’s explosion in Port Neches was the chemicals that were released into the air. The EPA actually has a history with Texas Petroleum Chemicals – the company who owns the plant. TPC has been violating clear air regulations through unhealthy levels of released butadiene into the environment.
Again, the cause of the explosion is unknown, but some think it is correlated with the high amounts of butadiene released from the plant. Because of fees and regulations that are not strict enough to necessitate fixing their chemical problem, experts think that the EPA should hit harder on clear air offenders like TPC.
Texas: A History of Power Plant Explosions
These sorts of explosions are becoming relatively commonplace in Texas. Keeping in mind some of the disastrous explosions that have affected Texas, here recently in 2013 the small town of West, Texas was hit with a large explosion from a fertilizer plant.
This resulted in the United States Geological Survey stating that the blast was powerful enough to register a 2.1 earthquake on their charts. There were estimates that more than 15 people had died. And around 75 homes were damaged because of the magnitude of the plant’s explosion.
The cause of the disaster was that a fire broke out inside of the facility and ignited the plant’s stored ammonium nitrate. What caused the fire is still unknown, but the plant had not been inspected for almost 3 decades. That same report had found serious safety problems, but nothing had been done about them.
Even coal plants are dangerous as well. In 2017, a coal plant in India caused the deaths of 43 people involved in an explosion at the NTPC thermal plant. The proposed cause has been attributed to bringing a more powerful unit online before enough testing had been put in place.
A Solution to These Explosions?
Because machinery can break and near-misses happen all of the time, it makes sense to not leave things up to chance: the solution to these explosions might reside within stricter regulations and fines for a plant’s proper risk management,
Not all accidents are preventable, but many people are stating that we need more protective measures in place. From the gamut of recent explosions, it seems safe to say that things need to be safer from here on out.