At approximately 1:22 p.m. CT on March 27, 2000, an explosion and fire responsible for 1 death and 71 injuries occurred at Phillips Petroleum's Houston Chemical Complex at 1400 Jefferson Road, Pasadena, Texas 77506. The fire produced huge plumes of black smoke that spread over the heavily industrialized Houston Ship Channel and neighboring residential areas.
The explosion occurred at the K-Resin facility and involved a type of plastic made with butadiene. At the time of the explosion, the tank was out of service for cleaning and had no pressure or temperature gauges that would have provided the workers with an alert to the approaching crisis. Ultimately, this explosion resulted in 1 fatality, while 32 Phillips Petroleum employees and 39 subcontractors were taken to local hospitals for sustaining burns, smoke inhalation, and cuts from debris.
It took search crews five hours to locate the body of a missing employee in the rubble. The dead man was Rodney Gott, a 45-year-old supervisor, who barely survived the Phillips Disaster of 1989. At that time Gott was in a building whose roof collapsed but he remained in the blazing plant to save a woman and attend to the injured.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's six-month investigation concluded that failure to train workers properly was a key factor in the explosion and fire, and it proposed that Phillips Petroleum be fined $2.5 million in penalties for 50 alleged violations of safety standards at the facility.
Today, the facility continues to manufacture high-density polyethylene (HDPE), as well as polypropylene and K-Resin SBC. This complex employs 750 workers for the production of specialty chemicals, including 150 operations and maintenance personnel.
The facility also experienced fatalities in 1989 and 1999. A massive propane leak occurred on June 25, 2008 in a utility easement just outside plant property.