Early this week, Texas City residents were advised not to go outdoors, following the power-outages that shut down three refineries and a Dow Chemical plant. One of the BP units killed 15 people in an explosion in 2005. The skies of Texas City glowed orange from the blazes of the flares that were set off sometime on Monday night.
Public school and other activities were cancelled on Tuesday, and Homeland Security coordinator Bruce Clawson explained that Texas City’s “shelter-in-place” emergency alert was lifted later that afternoon.
Texas City is an industrial suburb populated by nearly 50,000. It has one of the largest refinery and petrochemical facility concentrations in the world.
The cause of the power shortage is still unknown, but a number of theories have emerged. Texas New Mexico Power Co. blamed the lack of rain for its problematic equipment. They explained that the combination of salt and industrial pollution had accumulated on electrical equipment, instead of being washed away as it normally would during the season.
“April has been extremely dry, which led to this build up,” explained Cathy Garber, a spokeswoman. “High humidity late last night and early this morning, coupled with the build-up of residue, appears to have triggered the fault.”
Other organizations also considered this cause, stating that the shortage were probably caused by “chemical gunk.”