Fourth major Texas petrochemical explosion and fire this year prompts evacuations

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(Reuters) – Three workers were injured and residents of four towns were told to evacuate after explosions on Wednesday at a Texas, US, petrochemical plant, the latest in a series of chemical plant accidents in the region.

An early morning blast at a TPC Group complex in Port Neches, Texas, was followed by a series of secondary explosions that shattered windows and blew locked doors off their hinges. 

About 60,000 people within a four-mile (6.4 km) radius of the facility were ordered to leave after a distillation column blew up about at 2 p.m. (20:00 GMT) It was uncertain when residents would be able to return, Jefferson County chief executive Jeff Branick said.

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UPDATE November 29th:

(Reuters) – The fire continued to burn for a second day on Thursday, with the 60,000 people forced to evacuate still uncertain as to whether they could return home in time to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.

The plant manufactures petrochemicals used to make rubber and resins, and the volatile organic compounds in the explosion’s smoke can lead to eye, nose and throat irritation, shortness of breath, headaches and nausea, the pollution regulator Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) said. No impact to water was reported.