On April 17, 2013, a massive explosion at a fertilizer facility in West, Texas killed 15 people, 12 of whom were volunteer firefighters. This tragedy brought the dangers of chemical facilities to the national consciousness. On August 1, 2013, President Obama issued an Executive Order, which directed the EPA to issue new rules to prevent future chemical facility disasters. New rules were issued on January 13, 2017 but the Trump administration suspended and overturned them. 

Chemical facility incidents continue to occur and often result in evacuations, shelter-in-place, closure of local businesses, injury to employees, community residents and sometimes death. 

In 2021 the Biden administration will consider whether to issue a comprehensive disaster prevention rule that truly protects workers and communities from an estimated 150 serious incidents that occur each year in the U.S. We periodically update this list based on news reports.

Below, a list of chemical incidents from April 2020 to the present. Click on each headline to learn more. Previous compilations of chemical facility incidents can be found here

This is only a subset of incidents reported by media, industry, or government agencies.

Recent Incidents

  • Refrigerant leak, Longview Waste Control recycling facility, Longview, Washington

    May 26, 2021
    The waste control building was evacuated and temporarily closed after a leak of an unknown chemical caused eye and other irritations among employees. Employees located the source of the leak and removed it before fire crews arrived. It is suspected that the chemical is some sort of refrigerant.

  • Chemical Leak, Allied Universal, Palmetto, Florida

    May 26, 2021
    A leak of caustic liquid at the plant, which produces water treatment chemicals, sent one worker to the hospital with chemical burns. A second worker, also suffering from burns, drove himself to an urgent care facility.

  • Fire, Akron Coating and Adhesives Inc., Akron, Ohio

    May 24, 2021
    Hazmat crews were called in after a fire was reported at the facility, which provides “industrial adhesives and technically challenging and precise compounding, adhesive coating, die cutting, printing, and packaging,” according to the company website. Residential homes were evacuated for a half a block from the facility. Fire Lieutenant Sierjie Lash was reported saying, "We've got it under control, but we have not gone in due to the nature of the chemicals inside." She did not have information on the specific chemicals or quantities involved in the fire.

  • Fluoride spill, Alabaster Water, Alabaster, Alabama

    May 18, 2021
    The company reported that approximately 1,500 gallons of fluoride spilled when a tank broke while being fixed for a slow leak. “Alabaster Water reported that no one was injured during the break, and the majority of the fluoride spilled into a secondary containment structure. A very small amount of the chemical sprayed out through a crack in the pipe, but was safely removed,” according to a Shelby County Reporter story.

  • Fire, Chevron refinery, Richmond, California

    May 14, 2021
    A fire broke out at the 245,271 barrel a day facility. A spokesperson from the Contra Costa Health Services was reported to have “determined the refinery fire did not approach “action levels” for contaminants of concern, and believed that the “community should not have been adversely impacted” by the incident.

  • Chemical leak, one hospitalized, Solenis chemical plant, Chicopee, Massachusetts

    May 13, 2021
    One employee was hospitalized after the spill of an unidentified chemical at the facility, which is a specialty chemical producer and water treatment company.

  • Worker overcome by argon gas, Amcor food packaging plant, Saylor Township, Iowa

    May 12, 2021
    Hazmat crews rescued a worker who was overcome by fumes while in a 10-foot pit at the plant, which produces packaging for the food, personal care and medical industries. While losing consciousness the worker fell off a ladder injuring his head.

  • Nitric acid leak, two hospitalized, Linamar, Arden, North Carolina

    May 12, 2021
    55 gallons of nitric acid were released onto two workers. The workers were hospitalized with chemical burns. Linamar provides power systems for commercial vehicles and industry.

  • Nitroethane release, Eco Services, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    May 6, 2021
    A pipeline burst releasing nitroethane vapor which was brought under control. A few hours later a second pipe burst resulting in another vapor release of the chemical. Employees were told to shelter-in-place and no injuries were reported. Exposure to nitroethane can cause headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea and vomiting. It is also an explosion hazard. The facility operates two sulfuric acid regeneration units that use virgin sulfur, spent sulfuric acid, and other sulfur-bearing materials to make sulfuric acid. The units are also RCRA Part B permitted facilities, allowing the furnaces to be fueled by a mixture of natural gas and hazardous waste derived fuel.

  • Hydrofluoric acid injures worker, Diamond Chemical, East Rutherford, New Jersey

    May 6, 2021
    A worker was severely burned when he was splashed with hydrofluoric acid while hooking up a hose line. His injuries included inhalation burns. Diamond Chemical produces industrial and institutional cleaning and sanitizing products.

  • Hydrogen fluoride leak, Marathon Oil, Texas City, Texas

    May 4, 2021
    An undetermined amount of hydrogen fluoride was released from the pipes near the alkylation unit of the oil refinery resulting in the hospitalization of two workers and a shelter-in-place order for local residents and employees. Inhalation of hydrogen fluoride can lead to severe health problems and even death. Both employees were expected to recover. The facility makes fuel and petrochemicals. It uses hydrofluoric acid as a catalyst to produce high-quality gasoline blending components.

  • Noxious fumes, New Indy Containerboard paper mill, Catawba, South Carolina

    May 3, 2021
    While under EPA investigation for “a strong, rotten odor affecting thousands of people in the region,” the company requested an allowance to increase its emissions limits by 47 percent. The EPA was reported to have believed hydrogen sulfide to be the source of the odor and is monitoring levels in the region. In April, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) called the New Indy Containerboard paper mill a “significant contributor” to thousands of odor complaints in York and Lancaster county in recent months.

  • Noxious odor, ZOLL Medical Corp/Bio-Dek Pawtucket, Rhode Island

    April 29, 2021
    Twenty employees were hospitalized after reports of a noxious odor in the facility, which produces medical parts and electrodes. Employees complained of trouble breathing and irritated eyes, noses and throats. The cause of the odor was not immediately known. According to news website Report Door “Employees of the facility, which was fined in 2018 for violating environmental controls, were instructed not to speak to reporters.”

  • Fire, Manor Chemical, St. Louis, Missouri

    April 29, 2021
    A firefighter was injured at a wholesale chemical distributor’s plant and officials evacuated residents within a half-mile radius. It was reported that up to 10 chemicals could have been involved in the fire, but the names of these chemicals were not released. According to the company website, Manor Chemicals stores and sells chemicals for cars, paint, printing, dry cleaning, and industrial manufacturing.

  • Hydrochloric acid leak, ChemArt, Lincoln, Rhode Island

    April 27, 2021
    Workers were evacuated after a pump valve malfunctioned when a tanker was delivering hydrochloric acid to the facility. ChemArt produces jewelry, ornaments and other keepsakes.

  • Fire, T&R Chemicals, El Paso, Texas

    April 26, 2021
    Local residents reported hearing an explosion before a fire broke out at the facility,which produces “pine oil, dipentene and other derivatives, pine oil soap formulations, and other products” No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

  • Suspected chemical leak, Newburg Egg, Woodbridge, New York

    April 26, 2021
    A suspected chemical leak at an egg processing plant led to nineteen injuries. Employees reported dizziness and shortness of breath.

  • Hydrogen Sulfide release, Limetree Bay Refinery, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands

    April 24, 2021
    Several local schools were evacuated while residents complained of headaches and other irritations after an overnight release of hydrogen sulfide exceeding EPA’s limitations caused a strong and troublesome odor throughout the nearby community. Local environmental groups said the prior EPA administration set lenient air pollution standards in a community of color, where 27% of residents live below the poverty line.

  • Explosion, ADA Carbon Solutions, Coushatta, Louisiana

    April 23, 2021
    Two workers were burned during an explosion and subsequent fire at the plant, which lasted several hours. However, according to Fire Chief Jeremy Neal he was “prohibited from providing detailed information about what happened because of a confidentiality contract signed by the previous fire chief. The contract, which he said other area fire districts also signed, prevents the fire district from talking about what goes on on ADA Carbon Solutions’ property.” ADA supplies activated carbon.

  • Fire, Organic Valley Creamery McMinnville, Oregon

    April 20, 2021
    A three-alarm fire at a creamery forced officials to evacuate residents within a half-mile radius. Authorities were concerned about potential leaks of anhydrous ammonia.

  • Fire, Domino Sugar Factory, Baltimore, Maryland

    April 20, 2021
    A three-alarm fire in the Domino “sugar shed” caused the building to partially collapse. The Domino plant, owned by American Sugar Refining Inc., was the site of an explosion in 2007. That incident was believed to be caused by a buildup of sugar dust. No serious injuries were reported in either incident.

  • PFAS foam spill, Kalamazoo/Battlecreek International Airport, Kalamazoo, Michigan

    April 14, 2021
    A spill of an unreported amount of PFAS firefighting foam at the airport caused authorities to improvise a fix to stop the leak by using zip-ties.

  • Sewage sludge discharge, York City Wastewater Treatment Plant, York, Pennsylvania

    April 12, 2021
    The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced it would issue a Notice of Violation the facility released an estimated 5,000 gallons of sludge on March 27, 2021. Additionally, it was reported, “On April 3, about one week after the sewage leak, an aged valve on a separate digester leaked a small amount of poisonous gas at the facility.” The gas was identified as hydrogen sulfide.

  • Yenkin-Majestic Paint’s OPC Polymer unit explosion, one fatality, nine injuries, Columbus, Ohio

    April 8, 2021
    One worker was killed and nine others injured after a massive explosion and fire caused the collapse of the company’s olefin polymer unit. Causes of the explosion were under investigation, but the Chemical Safety Board reported that “Materials stored onsite include maleic anhydride, phthalic anhydride, xylene, and mineral spirits.” OCP Polymers makes alkyd coatings for applications such as urethane topcoats. According to the Columbus Dispatch the OPC Polymers unit “was cited for 26 [OSHA] violations after a six-month investigation. Of the 26 violations, 25 were deemed serious — which is classified as "death or serious harm could result." One worker was electrocuted in an industrial accident in 2011.

  • Toxic chemical fire, K-Solv warehouse, Channelview, Texas

    April 7, 2021
    According to the chemical distribution company, K-Solv, a fire that burned for two hours was caused by the transfer of a mixture of toluene and naphtha into a container. The company reported that forty-one different chemicals burned in the fire, including trichloroethylene.

  • Radioactive phosphogypsum waste retention pond breach, HRK Holdings, Palmetto, Florida

    April 3, 2021
    A breach at a former phosphate fertilizer plant retention pond caused the evacuation of over 300 homes in the area and caused concerns about runoff into Tampa Bay. The pond holds 800 million gallons of process water contaminated by radioactive phosphogypsum and other toxic waste. Fears of an imminent catastrophic failure subsided by mid-April.

  • Chemical fire, unnamed company, Goleta, California

    April 1, 2021
    A mixing of chemicals at an unnamed business caused a fire and leakage of contaminated water. Local businesses were evacuated. The chemicals involved in the incident were not reported. The event occurred at 6325 Lindmar Drive in Goleta. According to Google Maps, this is the home of Microdyn Nadir, a water treatment membrane producer.

  • Overheated butyl acrylate, BASF, Greenville, Ohio

    April 1, 2021
    Two containers containing butyl acrylate overheated and released smoke at a BASF automotive coating plant. Local roads were closed for two hours.

Older Incidents by Month

Fire, “chemical smoke cloud,” Sartomer Americas, Chatham, Virginia

March 29, 2021

A barrel containing an undisclosed chemical overheated and created a chemical smoke cloud.  Arkema, the parent company of Sartomer, did not name the chemical but described it as “an acrylic building block used in products such as coatings and adhesives. A nearby high school was evacuated. Sartomer Americas is a manufacturer of resins, owned by Arkema.

 

“Vapor leak,” one fatality, two injuries, 3V Sigma USA, Georgetown, South Carolina

March 27, 2021

A vapor leak  - possibly a “chloride chemical” - killed an employee at a specialized chemicals plant.  At least two other workers were injured. 3V Sigma USA manufactures synthetic polymers, preservatives, and thickeners for the personal care, home care, pulp & paper and textile industries. 

 

Sulphuric acid spill, Locatelli Vineyards, San Miguel, California

March 27, 2021

Sulphuric acid from a punctured chemical storage tank at a vineyard forced the closure of a local road. The toxic chemical was reported to have been leached into the soil and released into a storm drain that leads to the Salinas River

 

Chlorine leak, Newburgh, New York

March 27, 2021

A leak of chlorine, possibly from a commercial chlorine tank, forced the evacuations of the Cornerstone Family Health Center and the Mullen’s apartment complex. 

 

Explosion and fire, Rason Asphalt, Melville, New York

March 24, 2021

A tank holding liquid asphalt exploded, and firefighters were called in to battle a blaze that blanketed the area with thick clouds of smoke. 

 

Chlorine Leak, Opelousas City Sewer, Opelousas, Louisiana

March 18, 2021

Several nearby residents were evacuated after a chlorine leak was discovered in the city’s wastewater treatment plant. 

 

Fire, Thunderbolt Racing Fuel, Cornelius, Oregon

March 16, 2021

A fire and explosions at a racing fuel plant forced the evacuation of local residents. 

 

Contaminated drinking water, San Angelo, Texas

March 16, 2021

Officials in San Angelo issued a “do not use” order after high levels of benzene, naphthalene and acetone were found in the city’s water. The source of the contamination was unknown. 

 

Hydrochloric Acid leak, Ohio Aluminum Chemical LLC, West Chester, Ohio

March 15, 2021

Authorities issued a shelter-in-place order for a half-mile radius from the plant after a pipe burst. Most of the chemical remained in the building however some did spill into a nearby creek. 

 

Fire, Cahaba Pallets, Centreville, AL

March 9, 2021

Fire completely destroyed a pallet plant.  A fire department drone detected chemicals stored near the fire and residents living in a half-mile radius were evacuated.

 

Toxic Fumes, Alliance Roofing Company, Sacramento, CA

Mar. 2, 2021

Several firefighters who responding to reports of odors coming from a roofing company suffered respiratory injuries. They were exposed to fumes, believed to be solvents, leaking from an unmarked barrel.  A one-block radius of the business was evacuated.

Refinery fire, Delek Refinery, El Dorado, Arkansas

Feb. 27, 2021

A fire at a refinery injured six people. The Delek Refinery refines up to 80,000 barrels per day of  crude into gasoline, diesel, asphalt and LPG.

 

Fire, Advanced Foam Recycling Center, Dallas, Texas

Feb 25, 2021

A spark is believed to have caused a massive fire that injured three workers, burned for over a day, and destroyed a polyurethane foam recycling facility in Dallas. Advanced Foam Recycling says it is “the largest scrap foam supplier to the carpet cushion industry.” Polyurethane foam scrap often contains halogenated flame retardants and blowing agents.

 

Ammonia release, Eastman Chemical, St. Gabriel, Louisiana

Feb. 22, 2021

Ammonia was released from the Eastman Chemical plant. It was unclear what caused the release of ammonia, which reportedly lasted for about 10 minutes, from the facility. Three employees of a nearby business were exposed. According to Eastman’s Risk Management Plan, the chemical plant stores up to 187,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia.  “Anhydrous ammonia, and alcohols are reacted to produce amine products, such as ethylamines and isopropylamines.”

 

Three million pounds of toxic chemical releases, 194 facilities, attributed to freezing conditions, Texas 

A surge of cold weather in the Deep South led to hundreds of emissions incidents at oil and chemical plants, especially in Texas.   According to data compiled by Catherine Fraser of Environment Texas, 194 facilities reported over three million pounds of toxic chemical releases related to the freezing weather of February 11 to 22, which shut down power and halted natural gas deliveries.  For example: 

  • BASF/Total olefins plant in Port Arthur released 32,883 pounds of 1,3-butadiene, benzene, ethyl benzene, styrene, toluene, and xylene.
  • Olin Blue Cube chlor-alkali / epoxies plant in Freeport released 859 pounds of 1,3-dichloropropane, epichlorohydrin, ethylene, ethylene dichloride, and vinyl chloride.
  • Occidental Chemicals (OxyChem) chlor-alkali plant in Ingleside released 804 pounds of ethylene dichloride, hydrochloric acid, nitrous oxide, and vinyl chloride.
  • Solvay fluorochemicals plant in Orange released 125 pounds of chlorotrifluoroethylene.
  • OxyChem vinyl chloride monomer plant in Deer Park released 27 pounds of chloroform, ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride.
  • Guardian Industries insulation plant in Corsicana released 0.22 pounds of lead.

Incident details available at the Texas Council for Environmental Quality Air Emission Event Report Database.

 

Toxic chemical flaring, Valero Energy Corp refinery, Memphis, Tennessee

Feb. 15, 2021

Flaring by Valero released 501 pounds of sulfur dioxide and 101 pounds of hydrogen sulfide gases, and misted the nearby Nonconnah Creek with oil. The company blamed the flare on cold temperatures. The refinery makes  gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and petrochemicals.

 

Fire, Stanton Energy Center coal fired power plant, Orlando, Florida

Feb. 13, 2021

A burst of hydraulic fluid from a pipeline ignited and caused a major fire at the 34-year old power station. “This right here might be a major explosion getting ready to happen,” said a plant operator in an urgent 911 call.

 

Oil Spill, Chevron Long Wharf, Richmond, California

Feb. 10, 2021

Approximately 600 gallons of an unknown petroleum product spilled into the San Francisco Bay after a pipeline at Chevron’s refinery developed a leak. 

 

Attempted poisoning by hack, Oldsmar Water Treatment Plant, Oldsmar, Florida

Feb 8, 2021

Hackers tried to increase the level of lye in local water supplies from 100 to 11,100 parts per million (pmm). Levels above 10,000 ppm can harm the gastrointestinal tract. The hackers briefly altered the water supplies before alarms were initiated.

 

Boron trichloride leak, Leepoxy Plastics, Fort Wayne, Indiana 

Feb. 8, 2021

Boron trichloride leaked after a worker disconnected a hose, forming a toxic cloud.  Workers escaped without injury. The company is a custom formulator of epoxies and urethanes. 

 

Unknown toxic exposure, 29 injuries, Philips North America oral care products, Ontario, California

Feb. 4, 2021

Twenty-nine people were injured and nine were hospitalized with respiratory trouble after being exposed to an unknown contaminant. The facility manufactures oral care products. 

 

Styrene monomer spill into Ohio River, Dart Polymers polystyrene packaging plant, Owensboro, Kentucky

Feb. 3, 2021

Dart Polymers spilled 900 gallons of styrene monomer from a collection basin. “Approximately 300 gallons left the property and entered the environment, including the Ohio River.”  The company uses the styrene monomer to polystyrene food and beverage packaging. More information here. 

 

Ammonia Leak, Tyson Foods chicken plant, Noel, Missouri

Feb. 3, 2021

Hazmat and fire crews responded to an ammonia leak at a Tysons Foods chicken processing plant. OSHA cited the same facility in 2007 with 46 serious violations, including failure to provide an special alarm for ammonia releases.

Chemical Leak, Onslow Water and Sewer Authority (ONWASA), Jacksonville, NC

Jan 30, 2021

The local water authority shut down two production wells after PFAS contamination was found nearby, near Camp Davis Marine Corp. Outlying Field.  PFAS have not yet been detected in drinking water or groundwater, but private wells have yet to be tested in the city of Jacksonville.

 

Fire, Atlantic Fiber Company recycling plant, Passaic, New Jersey

Jan 30, 2021

An 11-alarm fire broke out at a recycling facility. The plant had the capacity to process up to 40,000 tons of single-stream municipal waste per month. The company specializes in recycling corrugated cardboard and other paper products.

 

Fire, Camden Iron & Metal scrap metal plant, Camden, New Jersey

Jan. 29, 2021

A fire at a scrap metal recycling facility burned for at least eight hours. Residents were evacuated to local shelters.

 

Liquid Nitrogen Leak, Six Fatalities, Foundation Food Group chicken packaging plant, Gainesville, Georgia

Jan 28, 2021

A liquid nitrogen leak at a chicken plant killed six workers at a chicken  . Foundation Food Group is a joint venture of Prime-Pak Foods and Victory Processing. It operates three poultry processing sites in Gainesville.“The processing plant uses liquid nitrogen to flash-freeze chicken, and the ‘inadvertent release’ happened on one of the plant’s five production lines”, according to Katherine Lemos, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board’s chairman and CEO.

 

Hydrochloric Acid Leak, Dover Chemical, Dover, Ohio

Jan. 26, 2021

A leak of hydrochloric acid at the chlorination process building of this industrial chemical company caused a cloud of gas to form around the building. Dover Chemical manufactures fire retardants and surfactants.

 

Ammonia Spill, Kellogg, San Jose, California 

Jan 22, 2021

Kellogg’s building was evacuated and a shelter-in-place alert was issued to nearby residents after an unknown amount of ammonia was released at the company’s facility on Eggo Way.

 

Fire, Washington Potato Factory, Warden, Washington

Jan 22, 2021

A fire at the potato factory edged close to an ammonia tank, leading officials to evacuate the surrounding area. “We’re just standing back and waiting to see if that tank does explode,” Kyle Forman, a spokesperson the county sheriff’s office was reported as saying. 

 

“Dramatic” Chemical Reaction, Gemini Signage, Cannon Falls, Minnesota

Jan. 15, 2021

One person was injured when two unidentified chemicals were accidentally mixed together at a signage manufacturing plant

Fire/Toxic Smoke, Specialty Products Inc, Lakewood, Washington

Jan. 14, 2021

A fire at a polyurethane foam plant released a toxic cloud and forced the evacuation of buildings and homes within a half-mile radius.

 

Chlorine Leak, Malteurop Malting Co., Great Falls, Montana

Jan. 11, 2021

Hazardous materials (Hazmat) crews were called in to address a chlorine gas leak at a malting facility.

“Chemical Incident”, Daniele Prosciutto Inc, Burrillville, Rhode Island 

Dec. 28, 2020

Workers evacuated a cured meat plant, and 10 people were transported to the hospital with upper respiratory irritation.

Chemical Smell, One Fatality, Fallon Middle School, Dublin, California

Dec. 24, 2020

Two school custodians were found unconscious after families called police when they didn’t return from work. One later died. Police responding to the situation noted a mysterious chemical smell. 

Chemical Mixture, Galloway Co, Neenah, Wisconsin

Dec. 23, 2020

“Fire chief Kevin Kloehn says hazmat crews have been sent to the scene to investigate whether chlorine was erroneously emptied into a tank filled with acid.” Three employees were treated and released. Local residents were evacuated. 

Ammonia Leak, Pepsico, Orange County, Florida

Dec. 15, 2020

Hazmat crews evacuated the building and were investigating the source of the leak. 

Two-alarm industrial fire, Agricultural supply yard, Oxnard, California

Dec. 14, 2020

A fire in an agriculture supply yard set off a series of explosions and caused a building to partially collapse. Local officials, “worried that the fire threatened fertilizer and other chemicals stored at the yard,” ordered residents to shelter-in-place.

Sulfuric Acid Spill, Coca-Cola, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Dec. 12, 2020

Coca-Cola plant employees were evacuated after a tank containing sulfuric acid spilled while being offloaded. The spill was contained. 

Ammonia Leak, Consumer Fresh Produce, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Dec. 11, 2020

Ammonia leaked from the roof of a cold-storage facility.

 

Fire, Odjfell Oil Terminal, Seabrook, Texas

Dec. 11, 2020

A hydraulic fuel fire broke at an oil depot; local residents were ordered to shelter-in-place. 

Freon Leak, CF Cold Storage, Haverhill, Massachusetts

Dec. 10, 2020

A Freon leak caused employees to become lightheaded. The cold storage facility was evacuated.

Chemical Odor, Brookline Department of Public Works, Brookline, Massachusetts

Dec. 9, 2020

A chemical odor in the Municipal Service Center caused four employees to be sent to the hospital for evaluation.

Explosion, One Fatality, Optima Belle Chemical Plant, Belle, West Virginia

Dec. 9, 2020

Chemical batch processing equipment exploded and released chlorine, methanol, and metal shrapnel, into the surrounding area. One worker died, three were injured. Officials enforced a 2-mile radius shelter-in place and closed dozens of local schools.

Anhydrous Ammonia Leak, Dole Food Company, Springfield, Ohio

Dec. 9, 2020

One person was injured before fire and hazmat crews contained a leak of ammonia from a salad packing and distribution plant.

Refinery Fire, Magellan Midstream Partners, Corpus Christi, Texas

Dec. 5, 2020

A fire and explosion of an oil tank at the Magellan Storage Facility injured seven people and led to shelter-in-place orders to the local community for two hours. Two workers, who were cleaning the tank, later sued Magellan for allegedly causing life-changing injuries.

Fire, Ameritech Heat Treating Services, LaPorte, Texas

Dec. 5, 2020

A fire involving an unknown chemical at a metal heat treating facility caused authorities to issue a shelter-in place order.

Nitrogen Leak, Two Fatalities, Golden West Food Group, Vernon California

Dec. 1, 2020

A nitrogen leak at the Golden West food processing plant left two people dead.

Fire, Eastman South Coal Gas, Kingsport, Tennessee

Dec. 1, 2020

A “minor incident” led to a “small fire” at the Eastman coal gasification plant. In 2017, an explosion at this plant disrupted operations for weeks.

Hazardous Chemical Spill, Amazon Distribution Center, Eastvale, California

Nov. 28, 2020

Firefighters evacuated 150 employees and several were hospitalized after possible exposure to an unknown hazardous substance. The workers reported to be feeling ill with “undisclosed mild to moderate symptoms.” Earlier in the year, workers complained to state and local authorities “about what they say are dangerous working conditions at the facility that could expose them to the novel coronavirus.”

 

Chemical Explosion, MGP Ingredients, Atchinson, Kansas 

Nov. 27, 2020 

 

An investigation is being conducted as to what caused the second explosion at a distillery in four years. In 2016, a truck driver mistakenly unloaded sulfuric acid into a hypochlorite line at the MGP plant, leading to an explosion that hospitalized 100 people and released a cloud of chlorine gas over the city. More info here

 

Chemical Leak, Ascend Performance Materials, Escambia, Florida

Nov 27, 2020

 

A power outage led to the release of anhydrous ammonia, nitric oxide, and nitrogen dioxide for over 30 hours. County officials said they were never notified of the leak while it was occurring. Ascend Performance Materials makes adipic acid, BHMT, dimethyl esters, hexamethylene diamine, keytone alcohol, nitric acid and nylon salt, at this plant. More information here

 

Ammonia Leak, Tyson Prepared Foods, Hutchinson, Kansas

Nov. 21, 2020

A meat packing plant was evacuated after ammonia leaked from a meat packing refrigeration unit. Two workers were transported to the hospital. 

 

Fuel Tank Explosion, Thomas Plastic Machinery warehouse, Scottsdale, Indiana 

Nov. 19, 2020

A fuel tank exploded and triggered a fire in a plastics machinery warehouse. One worker was hospitalized and the nearby area was evacuated.

 

Fire, Ohio Metallurgical Service, Elyria, Ohio

Nov. 16, 2020 

A fire at a metal heat treatment facility caused an explosion and blue and pinkish flames.

 

Ethylene Oxide Leak, Croda, New Castle, Delaware 

Nov. 15, 2020

Delaware Public Media reported that, according to the Department of Natural Resources, the Croda chemical plant “had exceeded its annual emission limit for ethylene oxide at an air pollution scrubber, and that the scrubber had failed to reduce volatile organic compound emissions by at least 95 percent. Croda also routed an unpermitted source into an air pollution scrubber and operated an unpermitted source of ethylene oxide at a part of the plant known as a hotwell, which environmental regulators say condenses vapors from the purification and distillation of crude ethylene glycol.” The latest problems followed a massive leak at the plant in 2018 which caused a shutdown of the Delaware Memorial Bridge. 

 

According to its Risk Management Plan, Croda stores as much as 1,433,200 pounds of ethylene oxide in rail cars at the Atlas Point site. It uses ethylene oxide in the manufacture of surfactants. 

 

Chemical Released - One Fatality, Wacker Polysilicon, Charleston, Tennessee

Nov. 13, 2020 

A release of a mixture of steam and hydrochloric acid killed one contract worker and injured several others at a polycrystalline silicon plant.

 

Fatality, Flash Tank Services, Channelview, Texas

Nov. 12, 2020 

A worker cleaning out a tanker that previously held toluene was found dead. “Authorities say it's not exactly clear how the man died since he was wearing a respirator at the time.” More information here. 

 

Fire/Explosion, One Fatality, Pureline Treatment Systems, Bensenville, Illinois 

Nov. 12, 2020

At time of reporting it was unclear what caused the explosion at the factory which produces chlorine dioxide generators for water treatment. Firefighters were challenged by a leaking barrel of hydrochloric acid that mixed with water from an overhead sprinkler system and formed a chemical cloud. 

 

Chemical Leak, Hexion Chemical Plants, Springfield, Oregon 

Nov. 1, 2020 

A formaldehyde leak shut down local streets and caused several people to be transported to the local hospital for evaluations. Hexion is the country’s leading manufacturer of formaldehyde-based resins.

Tank Collapse, INEOS, Lima, Ohio

Oct. 26, 2020 

A storage tank, which was reported not to be in service, collapsed during the night, shaking up local residents who were told they were not in danger. Contents of the tank were said to be proprietary and not revealed. “The plant's primary product, acrylonitrile, is manufactured by combining ammonia, propylene and air,” according to a Risk Management Plan.

Contaminated Groundwater, Velsicol Chemical, St. Louis, Missouri 

Oct. 24, 2020 

A two foot thick slurry containment wall installed in 1982 when the chemical plant was demolished was discovered to be leaking by EPA inspectors. The inspectors found evidence that contaminated groundwater had spread into a neighborhood but said that no contaminants were evident in drinking water. The facility had produced chemicals such as DDT and flame retardants. 

Explosion, New Mexicann Natural Medicine, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Oct. 20, 2020 

An explosion at a cannabis production facility severely burned two workers.The state suspended New Mexicann’s licenses. According to High Times, the facility had a similar explosion in the past. “Back in 2015, that explosion also burned two coworkers. It happened when two workers were extracting THC using cannabis that was soaked with butane and then heated to boil off liquid and create hash. The method is looked down on as unsafe by many in the industry because of the highly flammable nature of butane that is heated during the extraction process. At the time, New Mexicann Natural Medicine was fined $13,500 by OSHA and cited for at least 12 violations, which were considered serious by the state.”

Chemical Spill, ND Paper, Old Town, Maine 

Oct. 7, 2020

More than 30,000 gallons of pulping chemicals were spilled into the Penobscot River after a sewer line ruptured. 

Improper Chemical Storage and Disposal, Kassouni Manufacturing Inc. (KMI), Belding, Michigan 

Oct. 6, 2020

The company is facing a $115,000 fine and has been prevented from using, storing or disposing trichloroisocyanuric acid (TCICA). The chemical, which is used to kill bacteria in swimming pools and hot tubs, had been mishandled in the past at the facility resulting in release of chlorine gas clouds and a dumpster fire. 

Chemical Leak, Boston College chemistry center, Boston, Massachusetts 

Oct. 5, 2020 

A leak of hydrogen-sulphide into an air vent forced the evacuation of the building housing the Merkert Chemistry Center. No injuries were reported. 

Chlorine Leak, Salisbury Paleo Water Treatment Plant, Salisbury, Maryland  

Sept. 25, 2020

A worker discovered a leaking chlorine cylinder at a water treatment plant. Hazmat teams capped off the 150 pound cylinder, and the employee was sent to a hospital for evaluation. 

Foundry Fire, ABC Coke, Huntsville, Alabama

Sept. 24, 2020

Three employees were injured in a flash fire that occurred at ABC Coke, owned by coal company Drummond Company.  This is the largest largest merchant producer of foundry coke in the United States. ABC Coke was fined $775,000 for improper benzene emissions in 2019. Further information here

Chemical Leak from Gunfire, Helena Agri-Enterprises LLC, Ridgeway, New York 

Sept. 22, 2020 

Five people were arrested after bullet holes were found in tanks, and caused agricultural chemical tanks to leak.  The three adults and two juveniles admitted to target shooting in the area.

Chlorine Dioxide Leak, Domtar paper mill, Kenosha, Wisconsin

Sept. 22, 2020

A leak of 2,000 pounds of chlorine dioxide at a paper mill forced employees to be relocated and local traffic to be rerouted. 

Fire, 2 Fatalities, Evergreen Packaging Mill, Canton, North Carolina

Sept. 21, 2022 

A fire, at the 2,000 acre paper mill, was reported to have been started in a “process vessel.” Two contractors who died apparently were there to repair damaged equipment. As of January 20, 2021, a U.S. Chemical Safety Board investigation remains underway.

Chemical Explosion, Arizona State University research laboratory, Tempe, Arizona 

Sept. 16, 2020 

An explosion of chlorine dioxide at a research lab at the University injured 3 people. 

Chemical Fire, Bio Lab, Conyers, Georgia

Sept. 14, 2020

According to a local report, “Plumes of toxic vapor rose out of the warehouse where Trichloroisocyanuric acid was stored. The chemical is in a powdered form and used to treat and clean swimming pools. When water came in contact with the chemical it released a chlorine or bleach smell.” As a result, hazmat crews closed a nearby four-mile stretch of I-20 for several hours. 

Explosion, Averitt Express transport hub, Lawrenceville, Georgia

Sept. 11, 2020 

An explosion and flames were reported at a shipping company’s loading dock where acetylene cylinders were being transported. “It is unknown whether one of the cylinders was ruptured or leaking during offloading,” a fire spokesman said. 

Chemical Leak, Littleton High School, Littleton, Colorado 

Sept. 10, 2020

A leak of chlorine, gas and muriatic acid in the pool room of the school sent one person to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. 

Fire, CPI Products plastics plant, Williamson County, Texas 

Sept. 10, 2020 

A fire destroyed a rigid plastics factory. Local residents were ordered to shelter in place, close their windows and shut off air conditioners. 

Explosion, FAR Chemical, Palm Bay, Florida 

Sept. 8, 2020 

A series of explosions at FAR Chemical rattled windows and released fireballs resulting in a shutdown of US-1. A Palm Bay spokesperson said the blasts originated from a storage area containing barrels of an isopropyl alcohol-based solution. More information here. Florida Department of Environmental Protection cited FAR Chemical for failing to notify residents within 24 hours of the release of “potentially hazardous materials into the air.”   A site Risk Management Plan lists bromine and trimethylchlorosilane as hazardous chemicals it uses on site to manufacture pharmaceutical intermediates and other chemicals.

Chemical Spill, Department of Homeland Security, Washington D.C.

Sept. 2, 2020 

Hazmat teams responded to a chemical leak involving a spill of sulphuric acid from a leaking battery that was part of an emergency power backup unit. Parts of the DHS building were evacuated and employees were sent home for the day. One person went to a hospital for evaluation.

Chemical Leak, Sabic Plastics, Selkirk, New York 

Sept. 1. 2020 

A styrene leak at a rail station on Sabic’s property in Selkirk, NY caused officials to authorize a shelter in place for residents in a 1 mile radius and evacuations for non-essential personnel in a ½ mile radius. The rail car was reported to have contained 180,000 pounds of styrene, according to Sabic executive Scott Danzey. Later reports revealed the railcar had been sitting in the railyard for 3 months.

Hurricane Laura incidents 

August 27, 2020

“According to a WWNO/WRKF analysis of publicly-available reports and emails from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), while the majority of facilities emerged unscathed from the Category 4 hurricane, nine out of the 138 facilities that were inspected suffered critical damage.”

Plains All American reported a leak of an unknown amount of crude oil from a 40,000 barrel storage tank. EPA said it received 31 reports of oil and chemical spills in the wake of Hurricane Laura.

Critical damage was reported at the Lotte Chemical plant in Lake Charles and Equistar Chemicals facility in Westlake. The Chemical Waste Management facility in Lake Charles, according to WWNO/WRKF, reported “severe” damage, including the potential “total loss” of a transfer facility.  

The most significant incident occurred at the BioLab chemical plant in Lake Charles (below).A massive fire consumed this swimming pool chemical plant after being damaged by Hurricane Laura. The fire burned for two days and shut down Interstate 10. EPA found chlorine above detection limits in nine neighborhood locations.  BioLab reportedly stores 835 tons of the chemical trichloroisocyanuric acid. A U.S. Chemical Safety Board investigation is ongoing, as of January 20, 2021. 

In addition, according to New Orleans Public Radio, “The EPA is investigating potential damage at two Superfund sites in Louisiana — possible leaching of creosote-laden soil at American Creosote in DeRidder, and another incident at Marion Pressure Treating in Marion.” 

Reform Austin reported that the pollution began before the Category 4 hurricane struck the Gulf Coast. “ “With Hurricane Laura threatening the Gulf Coast region, the oil refineries and petrochemical plants that stretch across the Houston area and Southeast Texas took their customary precautions of shutting down operations. In doing so, they released about 4 million pounds of pollutants into the air.” 

Chemical Release, Valero oil refinery, Port Arthur, Texas

Aug. 27, 2020

Valero reportedly released 840 pounds of sulphur dioxide around its Port Arthur operations during shut down procedure for Hurricane Laura. 

Chemical Leak, Motiva oil refinery, Port Arthur, Texas

Aug. 27, 2020

“In Texas, refineries were rushing to shut down as Laura came barrelling toward the coast. But shuttering these plants actually involves releasing millions of pounds of additional pollution. As part of shutdown procedures, these facilities often need to release and burn off (or flare) various unprocessed chemicals and gases,” reported Grist magazine. “In fact, when Laura made landfall in southeast Texas, a report by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality showed that Motiva’s Port Arthur refinery, the largest oil refinery on the continent, had a chemical leak on a process line during the shutdown.”  According to publication Reform Austin, “Motiva’s emissions totaled nearly 90 tons, including a half-ton of benzene. The plant reported releasing more hazardous pollutants during the hurricane than it did in all of 2018.” 

Tank Fire, Pasadena Refining Systems refinery, Pasadena, Texas

Aug. 18, 2020

A tank fire was reported at Pasadena Refining Systems, adjacent to Buffalo Bayou. The product in the tank was “unknown,” according to a NOAA report.  There was no discharge of foam or fire suppression water into the waterway.  A site Risk Management Program report says the refinery “operates a variety of processes to produce petroleum products (e.g., refinery grade propylene, gasoline, fuel oil, and coke) from raw crude oil. The refinery has several regulated flammables, such as hydrogen, methane, ethanes, propanes, butanes, and pentanes. In addition, the refinery uses chlorine for algae control in cooling towers and hydrogen fluoride in the making of gasoline, which are also regulated substances.”

Explosion, 2 Fatalities, DAR PRO Solutions cooking oil/meat recycling plant, Byram, Mississippi

Aug. 15, 2020

An explosion killed two workers at a company that recycles used cooking oil and inedible meat byproducts for use in pet food. According to the Associated Press, DAR PRO Solutions did not report the incident to authorities.

Explosion, Brainerd Chemical warehouse, Dunn, North Carolina 

Aug. 11, 2020

An explosion occurred in the chemical distribution warehouse, apparently after sodium chloride and sulfuric acid were mixed.

Multiple Fires, Xcel Energy, French Island, LaCrosse, Wisconsin

Week of Aug. 24, 2020

Fire crews put out two fires in three days at a power plant. The first occurred in a dust collection system, the second broke out in a conveying system and was reported to have taken 40 firefighters nearly 7 hours to put out.  The plant burns garbage and fuel oil.

Chemical Spill, Borden Dairy, Winter Haven, Florida

July 29, 2020

A leak of a liquid at a dairy plant formed a cloud of gas and the site was evacuated. The leak was reported as   a combination of “Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Hypochlorite, Sodium Polyacrylate, Nitric Acid and Phosphoric Acid.”

Chemical Leak, Wrentham Water Treatment Plant, Wrentham, Massachusetts

July 21, 2020

Two workers were hospitalized after being sprayed with potassium hydroxide from a pressurized hose. 

Chemical Leak, Amazon Warehouse, Phoenix 

July 16, 2020

Residents nearby a distribution warehouse were told to evacuate, and those further away were ordered to shelter in place, after a semi-truck was discovered smoldering and emitting a chemical odor. "Initially representatives from Amazon could not be found delaying the identification of the products inside the trailer," according to a local report. The identification of what was described as a hazardous chemical was never given to the press.

Flash Fire, Pyrotechnic Specialties, Byron, Georgia

June 18, 2020 

An explosion and flash fire caused burns to a worker at the facility. “The man was injured while turning potassium nitrate into pellets...The chemical is used in fireworks, rocket propellants, gun powder and more,” according  to a local news report. In 2016, OSHA fined the company $176,000 after another explosion injued an employee.

Chemical Spill, DENSO Manufacturing automotive components plant, Battle Creek, Michigan

June 16, 2020

A tank containing diluted chemicals, including sulfuric acid and hydrofluoric acid, spilled and caused an evacuation of the facility. One worker was sent to the hospital for inhalation of fumes. The plant makes automotive air conditioning and engine cooling components. 

Explosion, Troxel Company steel tubing plant, Moscow, Tennessee

June 15, 2020

An explosion in the ventilation system at the factory sent three workers to the hospital with burns. Troxel manufactures steel tubing. 

Explosion, Praxair Inc., Texas City, Texas 

June 11, 2020

A rupture in a nitrogen line caused an explosion at the facility, which produces hydrogen. 

Explosion, Derichebourg Recycling metal scrap yard, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 

June 10, 2020

Neighbors of the plant complained after an explosion shook nearby houses and caused a fire and a plume of smoke. “This isn’t the first or second time,” one neighbor said. Frequent explosions from this metal shredding plant have been reported at least since 2013

Chemical Release, BioLab swimming pool chemical plant, Conyers, Georgia 

May 25, 2020

A chlorine vapor cloud caused the shutdown of roadways and the evacuations of surrounding buildings, while residents were told to shelter in place. Officials blamed the release on water exposure. It was reported that the facility had been the site of several chemical fires in the past 16 years.

Explosion/Fire, SmokeTokes hash oil warehouse, Los Angeles, California

May 16, 2020 

An explosion and fire in a hash oil warehouse injured several firefighters who ran into the burning building only to be confronted by a ball of flames. “Some of the fleeing firefighters were on fire and tore off their protective equipment and left it on the sidewalk, along with melted helmets.” 

Ammonia Leak, Tyson Foods meat processing plant, Albertville,  Alabama

May 12, 2020

The plant was evacuated, with no injuries reported. Tyson is the world's largest meat and poultry processing company. OSHA previously said the company “failed to separate compressed gas cylinders of oxygen and acetylene while in storage - a violation for which OSHA cited the company in 2013 at its Albertville, Alabama, facility.” 

Explosion/Fire, The Allen Company, Berea, Kentucky 

May 10, 2020

The plant produces blacktop asphalt. An explosion in a heater caused the explosion. Fire was fueled by “100 gallons of oil and a natural gas line.” 

Fire, Magnesium Elektron, Madison, Illinois  

May 7, 2020

Fire broke out at a factory that produces magnesium alloys for batteries, electronics and cars. “It was determined oil and trash had caught fire at the facility. Magnesium was not involved as a fuel source for the blaze. The exact cause of the fire has not been determined.” The company paid a $50,000 fine after a fire in 2012. That Madison Fire Chief said, “I’ve been on this department 35 years and there’s probably been several fatalities out here. … From explosions or what have you.” 

Explosion/Fire. Henkel AG surfactant plant, St. Louis, Missouri 

May 1, 2020

A violent explosion occurred at a St. Louis surfactant plant. There were reports of sulfuric acid being leaked.  No injuries were reported.

Fire, Chemical Solvent Inc, Cleveland, Ohio

April 29, 2020 

A reported boiler malfunction caused a fire at CSI’s Jennings Road solvent blending plant. The Jennings Road plant is one two company sites that were issued fines from the EPA in Sept. 2019.  Under the consent decree with EPA, Chemical Solvents was to “pay a $400,000 penalty and upgrade control devices and monitoring equipment, implement a leak detection and repair program for waste and product tanks, and close a wastewater sump.” 

Lightning Strike, Chalmette Refining, St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana 

April 18, 2020

“Plumes of smoke and the smell of chemicals emanated from the Chalmette Refining plant in St. Bernard Parish after power failed during heavy thunderstorms on Saturday,” according to NOLA.com. “The incident happened just after 4 p.m.. Chalmette Refining said there were no injuries and the plant flared off excess gasses, though the company did not specify what was burned, but the smell was reported across the New Orleans metro area. Some said it smelled like gasoline, while others in the Irish Channel complained of a burning tire smell in their neighborhood.”

Explosion/Fire, Bloomington-Normal Water Reclamation District, Bloomington, Illinois

April 16, 2020 

A methane gas leak in the building that managed sludge and gas production caused an explosion and subsequent fire. An employee opening the door to check the gas level was caught in the explosion and received minor injuries. 

Explosion, Pixelle Specialty Solutions Paper Mill, Jay, Maine 

April 15, 2020

An explosion destroyed a digester that produces pulp.  Some employees suffered respiratory issues and were treated and released. By October 29, 2020 the company had laid off 177 people from the mill. A statement from the company blamed the layoff on, “the costs and hardships caused by April’s explosion.” 

Coal dust cloud, Crawford Coal Plant, Chicago, Illinois

April 10, 2020 

The demolition of a shuttered coal plant unleashed a heavy cloud of coal dust over Chicago’s south side neighborhood of Little Village. “The demolition happened as officials are trying to contain COVID-19, a respiratory illness,” reported the Chicago Tribune. “The neighborhood near the plant has already had at least 268 people fall ill with COVID-19.”

Fire/Explosion, Valero Refinery, St. Bernard’s Parish, Louisiana 

April 9, 2020

One person was injured from an explosion of which a blown pressure relief valve was a suspected cause. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality said the refinery also flared “excess materials.” No results of air monitoring were available and the company did not disclose if any chemicals were released. More information here

Explosion, OneH2 hydrogen fuel plant, Long View, North Carolina

April 7, 2020

According to a local news report, “OneH2 provides hydrogen fuel tanks for commercial vehicles, such as forklifts. Witnesses said their homes were shaken by the explosion. Some of the houses had doors and windows blown out by the blast...Catawba County officials said about 60 homes near the plant suffered minor damage. One home was declared uninhabitable and the owner is being assisted.”  In June 2020, nearby residents asked the plant to be moved to another, safer location. 

Additional Incident Resources