Four injured in fire at Exxon’s oil refinery in Baytown, Texas

December 23 (Reuters) – Four people were injured when a fire broke out Thursday in an Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) complex in Baytown, Texas, one of the largest refinery and petrochemical plants in the United States.

There were no deaths and two of four contract staff hospitalized with injuries were released after treatment. The two who are still in hospital are in stable condition, the company said.

The cause of the fire, which was reported around noon. 1 CT (0700 GMT) and turned off seven hours later have not been determined, Exxon said.

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The fire occurred in a hydrotreater unit at the refinery that had been shut down Wednesday due to a bypass line leak. The injured were contractors who had repaired the leak, people with knowledge of the factory’s operation told Reuters.

Hydrotreaters remove sulfur and other pollutants in the production of diesel, gasoline and jet fuel. An Exxon official told a news conference that the fire had affected a unit that produces gasoline.

View from the road to a fire at the petrochemical company ExxonMobil’s refinery near Houston in Baytown, Texas, USA, December 23, 2021 in this photo taken from social media. Molly Fitzpatrick via REUTERS

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said on Twitter that initial reports had indicated there had been some sort of explosion at the facility. Social media users said on Twitter that an explosion shook buildings in the area.

The Baytown plant houses a chemical plant, an olefin plant and the country’s fourth largest oil refinery, with the capacity to process 560,500 barrels per day of crude oil. It is unclear whether any devices will be closed for a longer period of time.

Exxon is adjusting production rates at other Baytown treatment units to focus on stabilizing the affected units, spokeswoman Julie King said.

The facility spans about 3,400 acres along the Houston Ship Channel, about 25 miles (40 km) east of Houston, and employs about 7,000 people.

The company has set up a hotline for local residents to seek compensation claims.

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Four injured in fire at Exxon’s plant in Baytown, Texas

Reporting by Arpan Varghese, Bharat Govind Gautam, Akriti Sharma and Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru and Erwin Seba in Houston; Additional reporting by Paarth Gururajan and Seher Dareen; Graphic by Vijdan Mohammad Kawoosa; Editing Kirsten Donovan, Mark Porter, Bernadette Baum and Sonya Hepinstall

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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