Houston,TX- A massive explosion rocked a northwest Houston neighborhood Friday morning, breaking windows, collapsing ceilings and even knocking houses off their foundations up to two miles away, resulting in two fatalities.
Houston fire officials say the chemical involved in the explosion was propylene.
As a hazardous chemical, propylene is covered by a number of federal environmental and worker safety regulations.
Companies have to file those inventories with the state, its local emergency planning committee and the local fire department.
On its 2015 inventory, Watson Grinding and Manufacturing did not include propylene. It only listed liquefied oxygen.
If a company releases propylene into the air, it is required to report that release in the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory. Most releases of propylene occur at larger chemical companies. Propylene is used in plastic manufacturing to make polyproplyene which is used in countless household products. It’s also used as a fuel in large and small facilities.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers propylene a hazardous material. There’s a number of worker safety rules that apply to the storage and handling of propylene and other liquefied petroleum gases that are similar to it.
The OSHA regulations related to propylene all likely applied to Watson Grinding and Manufacturing. The company was fined in 2013 for failing to properly control hazardous energy. Propylene would likely be covered by those rules.
According to the company’s website, Watson Grinding and Manufacturing provides machining, grinding, lapping & thermal spray coatings to customers. It claims to specialize in the turning and milling of exotic alloys, hard metals and large parts.
“The quality of our in-house manufacturing processes is assured by our ISO 9001:2008 certification, team of QA/QC certified professionals and our fully equipped in-house Metallurgical Laboratory,” the website states.
At 9:30 am, Houston Fire Department says HazMat crews have secured the 2,000 gallon tank of propylene gas that was leaking at the blast site. There is still reportedly a small fire burning.
According to a news released dated November, 2015, the company is located in more than 84,000 square feet of facilities, and employs more than 125 people.
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