A powerful explosion rocked an East Texas chemical plant early Wednesday, causing "extensive damage" to homes and businesses and prompting evacuation and shelter-in-place orders for miles around.


Officials at the TPC Group plant in Port Neches said two employees and a contractor were injured but did not provide details. The workers were treated at two hospitals and released, said the company, adding that all employees were accounted for.


"There's extensive damage throughout the city," Police Chief Paul Lemoine said. "Please stay off the roads anywhere near the refineries. Obey all the barricades that are in place. We are doing everything we can to keep everyone safe and informed."


Troy Monk, director of health safety and security with TPC Group, said at a news conference that it’s unclear how long it will take to extinguish the fire that erupted after the 1 a.m. explosion.


The company said it was trying to determine the cause of the blast and the extent of its damage. It promised "a full and thorough investigation" and said the injured workers were the top priority.


"We are focused on their quick recovery and providing support to their families," the company said in a statement.


The explosion blew out windows from homes and created a chemical plume that reached neighborhoods miles away. Port Neches resident Roger Wallace said the explosion blew out the front window of his townhouse and tore an interior door off its hinges.


"That'll get you up quickly in the morning," he told the Beaumont Enterprise.


The company said it has activated its Emergency Response Plan and requested assistance from Port Neches Fire Department and other first responders.



"The event is ongoing but will be brought under control as quickly and safely as possible," TPC said in a statement.


The Nederland Fire Department in Jefferson County called for evacuations within a half mile of the plant. In neighboring Orange County, County Judge John Gothia issued a shelter-in-place order for some areas downwind of the plant because of the chemical plume.


Gothia urged residents to stay inside, close windows and turn off fans and air conditioning units.


A massive explosion at a chemical plant in Port Neches, Texas, on Nov. 27, 2019, sent a large fireball into the sky, media reports said, triggering a mandatory evacuation.


Port Neches is a city of about 15,000 people about 80 miles east of Houston. TPC, headquartered in Houston, said teams were conducting air monitoring along the fence line of the facility and in surrounding neighborhoods.


TPC manufactures butadiene and other chemicals used in synthetic rubber, fuels, lubricant additives, plastics and surfactants. The company has manufacturing facilities in the industrial corridor adjacent to the Houston Ship Channel and Port Neches and operates a product terminal in Lake Charles, Louisiana.


"Right now our focus is on protecting the safety of responders and the public and minimizing any impact to the environment," the company said.