KMTEX plant blast caused by welding of pipeline with solvent

01 April 2011 17:11  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The explosion that killed one worker and injured three others at the KMTEX chemical processing plant in Port Arthur, Texas, was caused by the welding of a pipeline that still contained a solvent, officials said on Friday.

Witnesses said one of the workers was welding a pipeline that contained coal tar naphtha solvent, according to the Beaumont Enterprise.

However, workers believed that all of the solvent had been removed from the line, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

The explosion occurred around 14:00 hours local time (19:00 GMT) on Thursday afternoon. By the time Port Arthur Fire Department firefighters arrived at 14:15, the fire had already burned out, the department said.

US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) spokeswoman Hillary Cohen said Friday morning that its incident screener was still gathering additional information, and would have an update by the end of the day as to whether it would investigate.

A nearby bridge to Sabine Pass, Texas, was closed for about two hours following the incident, but has since been re-opened.

According to the KMTEX website, the plant specialises in the custom processing of petrochemicals, specialty chemicals, oleochemicals, agricultural chemicals and food-grade chemicals.

The company’s services include terminal storage and expert project management in materials handling, distillation, filtration, molecular sieve and reaction chemistry, it says.

KMTEX did not respond to a request for comment.

By: Ben DuBose
+1 713 525 2653

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