Goodyear Synthetic Rubber Plant Explodes
The Goodyear Plant in Houston, Texas was rocked by an explosion that occurred on Wednesday morning. The 7:36 a.m. explosion at the synthetic rubber manufacturing plant in southeast Houston killed on worker and has severely injured many more. The body of the decased worker was found Wednesday afternoon under some debris. Six others were injured in the explosion. Two contract workers remain hospitalized at Ben Taub General Hospital and Memorial Hermann Hospital – Texas Medical Center.”They do have some ammonia gas burns to their lungs and their inner throat,'' said their employer, Rodney Lang, president of Performance Insulation Contractors, Inc, in La Porte.
Six workers were taken to local hospitals for treatment of inhalation shortly after the leak, according to authorities. Two remained hospitalized for observation Wednesday afternoon, officials said. Four were released. Ten workers were in the immediate area when the explosion occurred.
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“The incident occurred in a heat exchanger. This piece of equipment is about 2 feet by 15 feet long. It's used to cool and process fluids. The ammonia is used as a refrigerant, similar to what you'd use R-12 in your home's air conditioning system to cool your house, but deadly if inhaled. Ammonia gas can cause serious lung damage and permanent eye damage.
The explosion led to the evacuation of the entire plant's approximately 200 workers because of concerns about exposure to toxic ammonia fumes. Baughman said Wednesday an employee's body was discovered shortly after 2 p.m., when crews were able to go into the affected part of the plant near Goodyear Drive and Texas 225. Plant manager Mike Lockwood said soon after the explosion that the company believed all workers had been accounted for. The explosion occurred in one of three heat exchanging units, which are about 2 feet wide and 15 feet long, Lockwood said.
The units use ammonia as a refrigerant to cool processed fluids. Although the other two units were not affected, plant officials decided to clear workers out of the area to ensure that the ammonia fumes no longer posed a threat, Lockwood said. The plant produces synthetic rubber for the production of tires. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has cited the plant numerous times for minor to moderate permit violations since 2002, ranging from leaking valves to exceeding the amount of ammonia it is allowed to emit each year.
Ammonia is a colorless gas that can cause irritation and serious burns on the skin and in the mouth, throat, lungs and eyes. Exposure at very high levels can cause death, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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