Valve malfunction caused explosion at US chemical plant

Tuesday, 29 May, 2018

Valve malfunction caused explosion at US chemical plant

Following a flash fire caused by a malfunctioning valve at Kuraray America’s EVAL facility, the company has announced that all staff are accounted for and the majority of those who were injured have been released from treatment.

At approximately 10.27 am CDT on 19 May, there was an explosion and fire at the specialty chemical company’s facility in Pasadena, Texas, where 266 employees and contract personnel were on-site as part of a scheduled turnaround.

Although initial reports stated that six people were being treated at off-site medical facilities for non-life threatening injuries, this number was later updated to 21, 20 of which have now been released.

“There are no words to fully express the concern and compassion we feel for those who were injured or impacted by Saturday’s incident at our EVAL Plant in Pasadena,” said Hitoshi Toyoura, President of Kuraray.

It is believed that the explosion occurred when a pressure safety valve released ethylene from one of the production lines. The EVAL plant uses ethylene to produce a high-barrier polymer suited to preserving quality and avoiding waste in food, medical and industrial packaging. The company said the impact was contained at the EVAL plant and all other Kuraray facilities are operating normally.

It continues to work with authorities as they investigate the incident and is conducting a top-to-bottom review to prevent a reoccurrence.

“We are working diligently with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and the CSB (US Chemical Safety Board) to determine the root cause of the incident. Kuraray’s commitment to the safety of operations, protection of the community and environment in the greater Houston area will continue,” said Robert Armstrong, General Manager of the EVAL Division of Kuraray.

“We are extremely thankful to all of the first responders that supported our emergency response team during this incident and appreciate the many messages of support for those injured and impacted by the incident that have come from the community, suppliers, customers and the Kuraray family over the last few days.”

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