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What we know about the ExxonMobil Olefins plant in Baytown

The plant has faced nearly $1 million in fines in the past 10 years.

BAYTOWN, Texas — Fires erupted at the ExxonMobil Olefins plant in Baytown just before noon Wednesday, prompting a shelter-in-place in the area west of the plant and south of Spur 330. 

The plant is part of the ExxonMobil Baytown Complex, located at 3525 Decker Drive. 

Credit: KHOU
A shelter-in-place has been issued west of the ExxonMobil plant on Decker Road in Baytown. It includes areas south of 330.

What we know about the ExxonMobil Olefins plant in Baytown:

According to ExxonMobil.com, the Baytown Olefins Plant began operations in 1979. It is one of the largest ethylene plants in the world.

ExxonMobil says, "We recently completed the construction of a multi-billion dollar ethane cracker at the Baytown Olefins Plant. The cracker has a capacity of 1.5 million tons per year, and provides ethylene feedstock to two new high-performance polyethylene lines at Mont Belvieu Plastics Plant that started up in 2017. These projects are part of ExxonMobil’s larger 10-year, $20 billion Growing the Gulf expansion program."

Emergency preparedness and response (Source: ExxonMobil.com)

  • ExxonMobil Baytown’s emergency response teams are 100 percent staffed by employee volunteers.
  • About 200 dedicated responders undergo ongoing, rigorous training to ensure world-class response capabilities. We work closely with the city to coordinate mutual aid and off-site assistance, helping to safeguard our employees, contractors, neighbors and facilities. Our response teams routinely test emergency notification equipment and simulate emergency scenarios with city teams to ensure preparation and coordination.

More info: Shelter-in-place: What you need to know 

In the event of a chemical release, emergency-management officials or other authorities may advise residents to shelter-in-place. This means to stay inside homes or other safe structures and secure the building until notified that the situation is safe. (All below information courtesy: ExxonMobil.com)

Shelter-in-place warnings are often precautionary, but they should always be followed.

If at home:

  • Tightly close all doors and windows; turn off air conditioners, heaters and fans.
  • Students shelter in place in schools. Parents should avoid going to pick up children unless school officials direct you to do so.

If at work:

  • It may be determined that the safest course of action is to stay inside the building.
  • While some employees may make a personal decision to leave, this decision should be made with the best available information.

Baytown ExxonMobil plant has been fined multiple times:

The plant has a number of air violations dating back to the 1990s.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has fined the Olefins Plant 22 times in the last 10 years for nearly $1 million.

Half a million dollars came from an incident in 2009.

In the past five years, the Environmental Protection Agency has cited the plant for high-risk violations for breaching the Clean Air Act. Those violations cost the plant just under $20,000.

Another EPA case resulted in a $2,500 penalty.

In 2010, the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit to keep Exxon from expanding the facility. The lawsuit is still tied up in appeals.


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