At least 21 injured in Kuraray plant flash fire, officials say

By Rose-Ann Aragon - Reporter

PASADENA, Texas - Police and fire responded to a report of a fire at a chemical plant in Pasadena that sent 21 people to the hospital.

It happened around 10:30 a.m. at Kuraray America, Inc.'s EVAL facility at the corner of Choate Road and Bay Area Boulevard.

"Preliminary findings indicate a pressure safety valve released ethylene causing a flash fire in one of our process units. The company continues to work with authorities to complete the investigation," the company released in a statement Saturday afternoon.

According to the company's release, the company Kuraray is a specialty chemical company that creates sustainable solutions, including polymers, textiles, fibers, and other chemical solutions that strengthen products from a diverse range of industries.

The company said 266 employees and contract personnel were onsite as part of a turnaround with "heavy maintenance activities." Company representatives said that the plan had been undergoing heavy routine maintenance and had been shut down for weeks prior. Workers were performing hydro blasts, and modifying and cleaning equipment for the turnaround.

"At this time the TEC is on scene working with the plant at this time, there is no danger in the area, there was no need for any physical evacuations, and we don't have any safety concerns at this time at the plant or the facility," said Harris County Fire Marshall's Office Chief Investigator Dean Hensley.

Investigators said 21 contract workers were injured and brought to area hospitals, two of which were taken by medical helicopter. All of the employees are expected to survive.

“On behalf of Kuraray America, Inc., we send our thoughts and prayers to those who were injured and impacted by today’s incident,” said Eric Bass, plant manager of the EVAL Plant of Kuraray America, Inc. “Our team is committed to determining the cause of the incident.”

La Porte Fire Department, La Porte EMS, La Porte Police Department, Pasadena Fire Department and Fire Marshal’s Office, Harris County Fire Marshal's Office and the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management responded.

The company is working with investigators.

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