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Massive fire reported after explosion at shell plant in deer park

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Authorities say nine people were taken to the hospital after a large fire in Deer Park at a Shell Chemical Plant that continued to burn Friday.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said five individuals were transported for precautionary measures, primarily because of the heat. According to Scott Spiegel, spokesperson for Pct. 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia, three others took themselves to the hospital. Shell tweeted a total of nine contractors were evaluated at the hospital, but have since been discharged.

Additionally, Gonzalez said the fire began as a result of a heat exchange between two heavy gas oils.

Around 5:40 p.m. Gonzalez said the fire was being diminished and had been controlled.

The burning product is also being depressurized.

The location of the plant is in the block of 5900 Highway 225 near Center Street.

It is still unknown exactly what chemical is now burning off, however, smoke was seen rolling from a distance by SKY 2 cameras.

Small flares and dark smoke plumes were seen across the plant for hours after the explosion.

An Environmental Duty Representative sent the crew at Community Awareness Emergency Response (CAER) system the following statement to be released:

"This is the Environmental Duty Representative at Shell Deer Park. We are currently experiencing fire within one of our units. The event is being managed within the confines of this property and there is no risk to the community from this incident. We apologize for any trouble this might cause."

Shell officials said that a Shelter in Place was not issued for the city of Deer Park Friday afternoon.

Harris County Fire Marshal and the Harris County Sheriff's Office are responding.

Deer Park ISD officials say a Shelter in Place was not issued because the wind is blowing away from schools.

School dismissal occurred Friday afternoon according to the normal schedule.

The Shell Chemical Plant has been in the city of Deer Park since 1929.

The facility operates 24 hours a day and is a mix of processing equipment, control rooms, storage tanks, environmental protection equipment, office buildings, shops, and storage facilities.

Main chemical plant company categories include:

● Light Olefins-- ethylene, propylene and butylenes for plastics, prescription drugs, pesticides, antifreeze, detergents, etc

● Heavy Olefins-- isoprene, butadiene and piperylene for latex paints, adhesives, tapes, wire coating, synthetic rubbers, ink, etc.

● Phenol-- phenol and acetone for plastics, wood preservatives, dyes, antiseptic products, agricultural chemicals and other goods.

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