BASF TotalEnergies remains shutdown following tower collapse

Published 12:12 am Sunday, September 10, 2023

BASF TotalEnergies Petrochemicals are working to resume operations following Tuesday’s fire and tower collapse, an official said.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the Port Arthur site is currently shutdown,” Shelly Vitanza, manager, community and government affairs, said referring to the operations of the site.

“We are working to resume operations as soon as possible.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The next step for the site is to remove the tower and investigate the cause, she said.

Officials with the facility notified all of the required agencies of the incident.

An air emission event report submitted to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality indicates the event occurred at about 10:45 a.m. Tuesday and ended at 1:20 p.m. Wednesday. During this time a number of containments were released, according to the report, including benzene and 1,3-butadiene.

According to the National Institutes of Health, benzene and 1,3-butadiene are carcinogens.

The fire occurred in the pyrolysis gasoline unit and just more than an hour later, the extractive dissolution tower in the pygas unit collapsed.

Employees not directly involved in resolving the incident were evacuated out of an abundance of caution and emergency, officials said.

Vitanza said all employees were accounted for and there were no injuries and no offsite impact.

“BASF regards protection of health, safety and the environment as our most important responsibility,” Vitanza said. “We care about our employees and we care about our communities. We are committed to operating facilities in a safe and environmentally responsible fashion.”