What happened at the TPC Group Port Neches Operations site?
On November 27, 2019, an explosion occurred in TPC Group Port Neches Operations’ South Processing Unit, a butadiene processing unit containing crude C4 and other materials.
How many personnel were onsite at the time of the explosion?
There were 30 individuals onsite at the location when the event occurred. All personnel were quickly and fully accounted for.
Were there any injuries or fatalities?
There were no fatalities as a result of the event. Unfortunately, four individuals onsite were injured – three employees and one contractor. All of the injured individuals were treated and released by health professionals.
Is the fire out?
Yes. The primary fire following the November 27, 2019 event was extinguished on November 30, 2019. The subsequent series of small, anticipated fires that occurred were contained and extinguished on January 4, 2020.
How many agencies were involved in the response?
More than 20 federal, state and local organizations were a part of the ‘Unified Command’ response effort.
What is the current status of the response to the event?
TPC Group is continuing to work on facility recovery and site restoration at Port Neches Operations. These activities include: • Restoration of site utilities capabilities, including nitrogen, permanent electrical power and potable water. • Evaluation and complete assessments of tanks, piping and equipment in the impacted area also continues to determine equipment preservation and restoration strategies. • Restoration of terminal capabilities required to support industrial neighbors and terminal capabilities requiring dock, tank farm and pipeline operations.
What is the current status of operations at the Port Neches site?
TPC Group is operating the site as a terminal to serve current customer and supplier needs.
When does TPC Group conduct its plant alarm test?
Port Neches Operations conducts a weekly on-site alarm test each Wednesday at noon.
What does the on-site alarm test sound like?
How large is the Port Neches site?
The 218-acre site in Port Neches, Texas produced butadiene and raffinate. Combined production capacity for the facility was more than 900 million pounds per year. Logistics infrastructure capabilities include pipeline, barge, rail and tank car.
What products does the Port Neches site produce?
Port Neches Operations units processed C4 hydrocarbons producing butadiene and raffinate, and stores methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) produced by Huntsman.
What is butadiene used for?
Butadiene is used in the production of synthetic rubber used for tires and automobile hoses.
What are raffinates used for?
Raffinates are primarily a mixture of butylenes and butane. These products are used in the production of alkylate, a high-octane gasoline blending component.
Is there a response Facebook page?
The response Facebook handle is @PortNechesUC
Can I find information about the response on Twitter?
The response Twitter handle is @PortNechesUC
Environmental Health, Safety and Security (EHSS)
What measures did TPC Group take to monitor and evaluate air quality onsite and in the community over the course of the event at its Port Neches Operations?
With oversight by Unified Command, a body that included federal, state and local authorities, TPC Group conducted extensive air monitoring and air sampling activities onsite and in the community from November 27, 2019 to March 30, 2020. During that time: • More than 162,300 real-time air monitoring readings were taken throughout the community. • More than 60,100 readings for 1,3 butadiene were recorded in the community. In those readings, there were no exceedances of the Unified Command-approved action level of 5.0 ppm of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The source of any occasional elevated air measurement that registered as part of the response efforts or de-inventory process to further secure the site was quickly mitigated by emergency response teams. • Air sampling collected in the community confirmed no actionable levels of butadiene for more than 125 days.
What substances in the air were monitored?
Instruments monitored the air for asbestos, 1,3 butadiene, particulate matter and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – which monitors for more than 60 constituents at the stationary monitors, including benzene and butadiene. For any air monitoring readings above 5 parts per million (ppm) of VOCs, an escalated response conducted by all on-site agencies was deployed to identify constituents for additional screening.
Was there a concern for water quality as a result of the event?
Water quality remained normal. The water quality around TPC Group Port Neches Operations has been closely monitored since the initial event by state and federal environmental response agencies, as well as by CTEH. CTEH, the environmental response experts contracted by TPC Group, routinely collected water samples in the community in order to compare the results against health-protective state and federal screening criteria. No impact to drinking water supply was detected.
Claims and Resources Information
What is the status of TPC Group’s voluntary claims process?
TPC Group’s voluntary claims process went into effect on November 27, 2019 and received high levels of participation. The evacuation-only portion of the claims program remained open for more than seven weeks before concluding on January 20, 2020. February 4, 2020 was the last day to file a property damage claim to be considered part of the voluntary property claims process. TPC Group is focusing efforts on providing residents in the impacted area with the funds necessary to address property damage. Residents with claims located in areas closest to TPC Port Neches Operations continue to be prioritized for home inspections and settlement appointments. Given the volume of claims received, the process may take many months for homes outside the areas closest to the plant. If residents can receive quicker reimbursement for home property damage by filing a claim with their own insurance carrier, they are encouraged to evaluate this option. Our objective is to enable proper assurances that repairs are being made. This is consistent with our commitment to the community as the impacted neighborhoods benefit from residents repairing damage to their homes. Once submitted residential property damage claims have been processed, TPC Group will consider unresolved commercial property damage claims. For the latest claims updates Click Here.
What documentation is required at claims settlement?
For a list of required settlement documentation click here. Before scheduling a settlement appointment, please be sure that you have all the required documents ready to email at least 48 hours in advance of your settlement appointment to TPCDocuments@dynamicsettlement.com. Please make sure the information you submit is legible. The desk adjusters need to be able to clearly read all the information on the page. Illegible documents cannot be accepted.
Is TPC Group an environmentally responsible company?
TPC Group has a full Environmental Health and Safety program in place with dedicated resources to address safety and environmental issues. The Company works rigorously to meet or surpass all safety and environmental regulations under which its facilities operate. TPC Group applies a systematic approach to drive continuous improvement in environmental, safety, health, security and process safety management programs that meets regulatory compliance, legal and other requirements and industry best practices. TPC Group and the Port Neches Operations are in good standing with the TCEQ and rated as satisfactory for compliance history. It remains the Company’s standard practice to make all necessary and required agency notifications when an emissions event occurs. When we have fallen short of our compliance goals, and a permit exceedance or emission event has occurred, TPC Group has followed the law and notified the authorities and implemented action plans in full cooperation with the relevant regulatory agency.
Was there an investigation of the November 2019 event at Port Neches Operations?
The event is being reviewed by several regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Board (CSB) and the Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry also partnered with the EPA as a third-party resource dedicated to reviewing the response plan as established by Unified Command and TPC Group. Additionally, TPC Group is conducting its own Root Cause Investigation (RCI) to systematically process the root cause of the event and corrective actions to be taken.
What have these investigations found?
TPC Group continues to cooperate fully with all federal and local agencies investigating the event. TPC Group employees involved in these investigations have been asked to be cooperative, truthful and transparent to ensure agencies receive the information necessary to conduct a thorough assessment and review. Regulatory oversight agencies and activities include: -Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has initiated its investigation of air quality and all other environmental media. – The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Board (CSB) investigation is ongoing. -The Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) completed its investigation and issued citations on May 26, 2020. As acknowledged by OSHA, the Company cooperated completely with OSHA’s inspection. TPC Group is reviewing the citations and intends to appeal them.