PNGISD notified of TPC leak, “precautionary measures” taken

Published 12:19 am Thursday, January 16, 2020

PORT NECHES — A leak inside the fence line at TPC Group resulted in elevated air monitor readings earlier this week.

Officials with Port Neches-Groves Independent School District — where several schools are within sight of the facility — were notified.

Superintendent Mike Gonzales said they were notified by TPC that there were elevated readings inside the fence line and that no readings were detected outside the fence.

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“We did what we always do, take extra precautionary measures,” Gonzales said, adding that practice fields were cleared until the all-clear was given.

Gonzales said TPC has been in contact with the school district since “day one” and have kept them and the city in the loop.

Sara Cronin, vice-president of communications and public affairs with TPC, said the leak was detected at approximately 1:10 p.m. Monday. Environmental teams were activated to conduct more extensive air monitoring on-site and in the community. No actionable levels were detected.

The incident ended at approximately 2:05 p.m. The source of the leak was identified and mitigated by emergency response personnel, she said.

Cronin said it is important to note response efforts are ongoing, and occasional elevated air measurements on site may continue to register as response teams continue to secure the site.

TPC Group began the de-inventory process last week to secure the site and transfer the remaining materials.

“Based on successful mechanical integrity inspections of tanks and equipment, the Company initiated the flow of materials from tanks for barge loading. ‘Finished’ or high purity 1,3 butadiene was prioritized for first transfer and is underway,” according to a situational update provided Monday. “The transfer of lower purity 1,3 butadiene will commence next, followed by raffinate, polyblend and other process materials. It will take several weeks to complete the transfer of materials from the site.”

Two Thanksgiving Eve explosions rocked the city, busting out windows and doors sending billowing smoke into air and leading to the evacuation of residents in a four-mile radius.

TPC Group’s Community Assistance Hotline continues to operate from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. To make an appointment to settle an evacuation claim, residents can call the Community Assistance Helpline at 866.601.5880. Evacuation claim settlements are by appointment only at the Armory Claims Center, located at 511 Grigsby Ave. in Port Neches.

The deadline to make an “evacuation only” claim is Jan. 20.

Lion Elastomers, which is adjacent to TPC, experienced a leak on Monday as well, a Port Neches city official said. The incident was cleared up by 2 p.m.