A massive explosion at Sound Resource Solutions, a chemical plant in Shepherd, Texas, has led to a significant fire, sending towering black smoke plumes into the sky. This distressing incident unfolded on the morning of November 8, 2023, at the plant known for producing solvents used in glue and paint remover. The San Jacinto County Office of Emergency Management confirmed the details of this hazardous event.
Geoff Harfield, president of Sound Resource Solutions, addressed the media, revealing that one employee sustained minor burns and is receiving medical care. Thankfully, all other employees are accounted for and safe. The plant, operational since 2013 and employing nearly 40 people, is a significant part of the local community. Harfield commended the first responders for their swift and cautious action in ensuring everyone’s safety.
🚨 JUST IN: A shelter-in-place order has been issued for towns surrounding Shepherd, TX after a MASSIVE explosion at a chemical plant— Nick Sortor (@nicksortor) November 8, 2023
Multiple injuries have been reported, and the smoke can be seen for MILES pic.twitter.com/4AAXkKG5dX
The intensity of the blaze necessitated the evacuation of a nearby private school on Farm-to-Market Road 1127. Additionally, officials initially issued a five-mile shelter-in-place advisory, which was later reduced to a one-mile radius by 10:30 a.m. local time.
The fire’s impact extended beyond Shepherd, with the closure of Highway 59 and advisories to use alternate routes. The Polk County Emergency Management Office warned that the smoke plume was drifting towards Livingston, advising residents and businesses to take immediate precautions. These include sheltering in place and shutting down HVAC systems to avoid exposure to potentially toxic chemicals.
Officials from Polk County highlighted the severe risks associated with the chemicals housed at the plant, which include acute toxicity, potential carcinogenic effects, reproductive toxicity, and risks of severe eye and skin irritation, among others. The Livingston Police Department echoed these warnings, urging residents to remain indoors and turn off air conditioning systems until it’s deemed safe.
This incident underscores the importance of stringent safety measures in industrial settings, particularly those dealing with hazardous materials. The ongoing efforts of emergency responders and local authorities are focused on containing the blaze and mitigating its impact on the community and the environment. Further updates are expected as the situation unfolds.