A massive fire at a chemical plant in Shepherd, Texas, injured one worker and prompted residents to shelter in place.
The explosion was reported at about 8:17 a.m. on November 8 at Sound Chemical Solutions, about an hour north of Houston.
The fire burned highly toxic chemicals and sent a billowing black cloud of smoke into the air, which was visible for miles.
Local officials said that an employee noticed that a container was leaking chemicals, and when he tried to lift it with a forklift, a fire ignited and quickly spread.
The chemical plant manufactured solvents for glue and paint remover, and was known to store toxic chemicals, including diesel fuel, xylene, wood turpentine, phosphoric acid 75%, isopropyl alcohol, and more.
The chemicals at the facility were “known to have acute toxicity, carcinogenicity and reproductive toxicity, and may cause serious eye damage or eye irritation, skin corrosion or irritation, aspiration hazard, and organ toxicity,” according to a news release from the Polk County Office of Emergency Management.
Immediately after the explosion, residents in a 1-mile radius surrounding the chemical plant were told to shelter in place.
After the order was lifted, residents were still advised to “limit all unnecessary outdoor activity,” according to the Polk County Office of Emergency Management. “At this time, the effects of the chemical in the air are unknown.”
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality set up an air quality monitoring unit near Livingston, Texas, but did not find any chemicals in the air.