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ExxonMobil sued by local gov't over fire
HOUSTON, August 1, 2019 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Copyright 2019 XINHUA NEWS AGENCY

ExxonMobil was sued on Thursday by local government over the explosion and fire at the company's Olefins Plant in Baytown city, about 40 km east of downtown Houston, Texas, the United States.

The Harris County's lawsuit against ExxonMobil alleged the company violated the Texas Clean Air Act due to the release of pollutants.

With Houston as the county seat, Harris County is the most populous county in Texas and the third most populous county in the United States.

ExxonMobil, an American multinational oil and gas corporation headquartered in Texas, said on Thursday that the fire has been extinguished, and all the workers who were evaluated have been cleared to return to work.

The company said in a statement on Thursday that "air monitoring continues in the area immediately outside of the complex and levels are normal."

Jason Duncan, the plant manager, told a press conference on Wednesday afternoon that the fire was a result of an explosion at the plant, and 37 people were treated for injuries but not life threatening.

The city of Baytown on Wednesday issued a precautionary order to Shelter in Place due to the emergency at the ExxonMobil Baytown Area.

According to a tweet from the city of Baytown, the fire was in the unit that contains polypropylene material, which is used in everything from toys to electronics to automobile products. Polypropylene is used in about 25-percent of plastic products on the market today.

The material is easily ignited by heat, sparks or flames and will form explosive mixtures with air. Any cylinders exposed to the fire may vent and release flammable gas through pressure relief devices. When it comes to the health impacts of the gas, vapors may cause dizziness or asphyxiation without warning.

According to the ExxonMobil's website, the Baytown Olefins Plant began operations in 1979 and is one of the largest ethylene plants in the world. The refinery can process up to 584,000 barrels of crude oil per day.


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