A government watchdog group called on Texas lawmakers Sunday to enact stronger safety measures in the petrochemical industry after a fire and explosion at a storage tank in Corpus Christi injured seven workers.
“Dangerous petrochemical incidents like this are far too common in Texas,” said Adrian Shelley, who directs the Texas office of Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group. “When the Texas Legislature convenes in January, we hope lawmakers will pass long-overdue legislation to prevent chemical accidents.”
Saturday’s fire at the Magellan Midstream facility is the second major industrial accident in Corpus Christi since August, when a dredging vessel struck an underwater gas pipeline in the port’s ship channel, causing an explosion and fire that engulfed the vessel and killed four crew members.
“We know this industry is very dangerous. It can cost somebody their life,” said Corpus Christi City Manager Peter Zanoni. “We also know that all these companies, including the port, take safety as a top priority.”
The fire occurred around 10 a.m. Saturday as contractors working for Magellan were cleaning an empty crude oil storage tank. Zanoni said there was still sludge on the bottom of the tank, but it was still unclear what caused the blaze.
Two of the injured contractors were released from the hospital after being evaluated, Zanoni said, and five others were transported to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, which specializes in treating burn injuries.
Corpus Christi police cautioned residents to shelter in place as thick plumes of dark smoke poured from the fire, but air-quality readings showed no neighborhoods were at risk, Zanoni said.
Gov. Greg Abbott said the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality monitored air quality in the area, and the Texas Division Of Emergency Management and the Texas Department of Public Safety helped first responders.
“The State of Texas is working closely with Magellan and Corpus Christi officials to aid in the emergency response efforts and to provide immediate help to those injured in the explosion,” Abbott said Saturday.