Seven Injured When Oil Storage Tank Explosion Rocks Corpus Christi's Refinery Region
An oil storage tank exploded near the refineries on the northwest side of Corpus Christi on Saturday, injuring at least seven people, city and Nueces County officials reported.
The explosion site was at the Magellan Midstream storage tank facility in the 1800 block of Poth, north of Interstate 37 and south of Nueces Bay, near the turning basins for tankers and other ships that enter the industrial port channel.
Among the seven injured, two people have since been released from the hospital and the remaining five are in stable condition.
Richie Quintero, a deputy chief with the Corpus Christi Fire Department, reported that department monitors detected no air quality issues, and no homes were located near the facility.
Corpus Christi police responded to the incident at 10:42 a.m. and issued a shelter in place order for nearby neighborhoods and businesses. By 11:50, that order was lifted once the fire was extinguished. By 2:15 p.m., the city's Reverse Alert system reported emergency units had cleared the site.
"It's a sad day for Magellan," said Mark Calhoun, Magellan's local operations manager, at the press conference. "We will absolutely, fully cooperate with the investigation," he said, adding that the company would also conduct an internal inquiry onto the incident.
The fire began near an above-ground storage tank that was being routinely cleaned and inspected, he explained. The tank, he said, held "residual light crude oil."
He said the cause of the fire was as yet unknown.
David Guerra was working at a restaurant nearby and heard the explosion.
"I was pulling up to work," he said, "and I could see the black smoke. ... My boss was getting some stuff out of her car ... when we heard the boom. Yeah, it was a pretty big boom."
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is conducting air monitoring in Corpus Christi residential neighborhoods downwind of a fire that ignited this morning in Magellan’s petroleum storage facility. (1/3)— Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (@TCEQ) December 5, 2020
In a statement, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said that the "State of Texas is working closely with Magellan and Corpus Christi officials to aid in the emergency response efforts and to provide immediate help to those injured in the explosion. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is monitoring air quality in the area, and the Texas Division Of Emergency Management is on the ground to provide support."
The statement added: "The Texas Department of Public Safety is also working to provide assistance to first responders on the ground. The state is ready to deploy additional resources to respond to this event and keep the community safe. Cecilia and I ask all Texans join us in prayer for those injured in this explosion, for our first responders, and for the safety of those in the area."
Calhoun explained that the Magellan facility contains 60 storage tanks. About 70 people work at the facility.
Sean Strawbridge, the CEO of the Port of Corpus Christi, reported that the incident did not affect normal port operations.
Brian Kirkpatrick and Fernando Ortiz Jr. contributed to this report.