PD: 4 injured in explosion at plant in Pasadena

By Ryan Korsgard - Reporter, Sara Donchey - Anchor/Reporter

PASADENA, Texas - Four workers were treated for burns after an explosion and fire at a chemical plant along the Houston Ship Channel on Friday.

The Harris County Fire Marshal's Office said silane was released during the fire.

"It was a loud explosion," Matt Vasquez said. "It was just real loud. boom and felt it on the ground. It could have been a lot worse than it was."

Vasquez works at a plant nearby and also works with a group of professionals who help in an emergency along the Houston Ship Channel.

He said the first goal is to get the fire under control.

After firefighters extinguished the fire, they continued pouring water on the fire from overhead sprinklers.

"We are working with the plant, safety officials and their staff," Capt. Dean Hensley with the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office said. "Right now there appears to be no danger to the community or the immediate area. It's really early in the investigation. We don't know exactly what happened."

Company leaders said their attention is now on workers at the plant.

"As a result of the accident, there was a discharge of silicon dioxide, which is a naturally occurring material commonly found in sand. We do not believe it will cause an adverse environmental impact," Lynette Schulte of SunEdison's Pasadena Plant said.

Past problems for plant

KPRC 2 has learned of past violations at the SunEdison plant in Pasadena.

On the afternoon of April 24, 2008, a hazardous gas was released in the air at the same location as Friday's incident.

The gas was STF, or silicon tetrafluoride, and 18 people ended up hospitalized, according to a release from SunEdison.

OSHA cited the plant for 10 violations, including unsafely managing hazardous chemicals. The company was fined more than $16,000.

Not even two months later, there was another OSHA violation. In 2011, there were five more fines for unsafely managing hazardous chemicals, totaling $35,000.

KPRC 2 spoke with multiple people at the company who said they are cooperating with investigators to get to the bottom of what went wrong Friday.

Copyright 2015 by Click2Houston.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.