• 79°

TPC equipment restart ready; plan to rebuild Port Neches site

PORT NECHES —TPC Group Port Neches Operations is moving forward with plans to restart some equipment this week to further enable response efforts.

The news comes days after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency transitioned response and cleanup to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Last week, TPC Group began introducing diethylhydroxylamine, or DEHA, to storage tanks containing butadiene to stabilize materials for longer-term storage, transportation and safe removal from the site.

Sara Cronin, media relations with TPC, said this is a phased process and all tanks containing materials are being evaluated and identified for inhibitor introduction so the number of tanks receiving DEHA may change.

No off-site impacts or public health concerns are anticipated as part of the DEHA process.

The process to remove materials from the site will take several weeks.

Small, anticipated fires that occurred in the impacted part of the plant remain contained and continue to result in a reduction of some of the materials onsite.

“They have not increased in intensity and will not impact the process of transferring materials from the site,” Cronin said in an email. “Response teams continue to monitor and assess.”

Fifteen frac or vacuum tanks remain in place along FM 366. They are used to offload water runoff from TPC before being treated and disposed of. (Mary Meaux/The News)

Upcoming activities on-site and future plans

TPC Group plans to restart some equipment on-site this week. The restart of this equipment may be heard off-site.

In addition, TPC Group said they will notify the community and industry that there will be a replacement alarm system installed on-site this week and testing will begin soon after.

There may be elevated noise levels in the area near Port Neches Operations due to the testing

Looking to the future, TPC Group’s Port Neches Operations will need significant support for emergency response and site recovery resources in 2020. There will be also be resource needs to assist the various investigations. Beyond that, at this time the company expects it will need resources to define rebuild options and then rebuild the site.

This means the focus has been on mitigating the emergency and not assessing the condition of the remaining assets and infrastructure.

“At this point, we plan to rebuild the site,”Cronin said. “We know at our Port Neches site we will need significant support for Emergency Response Team and site recovery resources in 2020. There will be also be resource needs to assist the various investigations. Beyond that we expect we will need resources to define our rebuild options and then rebuild the site.”

Port Neches

Port Neches Mayor Glenn Johnson said the city continues to recover form the Nov. 27 explosions at TPC.

“Right now everybody is in the assessment mode, getting adjusters in, structural engineers in and progressing, but it will be a slow process and everybody has been patient from what I hear,” Johnson said. “For the most part, people have been patient and understanding.”

Johnson believes communication between the city, county, state and federal levels is working.

“I think they have been very forthcoming and gotten information to us that we need to make our decisions,” he said. It’s slow to come but there again, we’re being patient.”

Charred towers at the TPC Group Port Neches site can be seen from FM 366 and Earle Street on Monday. This intersection as well as several others remains closed. (Mary Meaux/The News)

TCEQ hearing

A hearing on TPC will be held at the TCEQ commissioners meeting Wednesday in Austin.

The address for the meeting is 12100 Park 35 Circle, Room 201S, Building E, Austin.

The TCEQ commissioners will consider penalties and required actions of TPC Group for air quality violations in 2018. TPC was assessed $55,753 in the matter, $11,150 of which has been deferred.

Moore Law Firm to offer free outreach to TPC victims

Moore Law Firm is hosting an outreach event to provide free legal advice those impacted by the explosions. The event is set for 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 700 Central Drive in Port Neches.

The outreach event is open to all members of Port Neches and surrounding areas who have questions regarding their claims and would like information on their options if their claims are denied or undervalued.

Free barbecue plates will also be provided to all attendees. The law firm has offices in McAllen and Houston.