Around 4:30 a.m. a massive plant explosion in Northwest Houston occurred at the Watson Grinding & Manufacturing plant located at 4525 Gessner Road. Several area homes were severely damaged or destroyed. Many surrounding buildings and cars suffered damage as well as debris filled the streets. Video of the explosion was captured by a local home security camera. The police have shut down the area as firefighters fight to control the blaze.
What Does Watson Grinding & Manufacturing Do?
According to their website, Watson Grinding & Manufacturing provides high “performance coatings, machining and grinding services” to the petrochemical and other industries. The design corrosion-resistant coatings to protect the machinery and equipment used in the agricultural industry, the chemical industry, and others. A key chemical ingredient used in the process of making the resin is propylene.
Propylene is a colorless gas that can be liquified under high pressure. It is used by industrial plants to plastics, resins, rubbers, and gasoline. Exposures to high levels of the gas can make you dizzy, light-headed and to pass out. Extended exposure may damage the heart, liver, and nervous system according to the New Jersey Health Hazardous Substance Fact Sheets. It is considered highly flammable and produces poisonous gasses when burned. If converted to propylene oxide for use as a detergent or lubricant, it is considered a known carcinogen.
In the event of symptoms due to exposure to propylene, one should seek medical advice and assistance immediately.
Police Chief Art Acevedo issued a warning to persons in the area that traffic was blocked off as they were anticipating additional smaller explosions. He further warned that people should limit their exposure if at all possible. Houston Fire Department’s Hazmat team is onsite.
Update: 9:05 fires appear to be out but the scene is still under investigation and traffic flow affected.
Area School Closings
Update: Bane Elementary and Dean Middle School are closed today, 1/24/2020, due to the Watson explosion. Spring Brand ISD posted notices on their website earlier that as of 6:30 a.m., schools were still open but that children would be kept inside as the air quality was being monitored. Apparently, this has changed for some schools within the district. Parents should check with their specific school’s website to be certain. Also, parents should expect traffic delays in the area due to road closures following the explosion in Northwest Houston.
If you were injured or suffered severe loss of property as a result of the explosion, speak to an attorney who handles industrial accidents–you may have legal rights.