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UPDATE: Despite Explosion at LyondellBasell, Evacuation Lifted and Residents Returning to Homes

Following a small explosion Sunday evening, the evacuation recommendation for residents in the area was lifted. An incident there earlier in the day resulted in 125 emergency responders and the evacuation of 1.8-mile radius.

Updated at 7:30 p.m.

Neighbors of LyondellBasell's Morris facility are beginning to return to their homes, despite a small explosion reported there around 7 p.m. Sunday, hours after authorities evacuated a 1.8-mile radius around the chemical plant following a power outage.

Grundy County Emergency Management Director Jim Lutz said there was a small explosion at the plant in unincorporated Grundy County and fire personnel have been dispatched to the facility. Neither the cause of the explosion nor whether anyone was injured is known at this time.

The plant, at 8805 North Tabler Road, had lost power early Sunday afternoon.

"The plant lost electrical power and due to losing electrical power, they lost some ability to cool some product in the plant," Morris Fire Protection District Deputy Chief Tracey Steffes said.

The area surrounding the plant was evacuated due to concerns about chemical pressure.

“They need to be at 0.5 pounds of pressure," Grundy County Emergency Management Director Jim Lutz said. "The latest reading is 0.94."

When the reading earlier reached 0.97 pounds of pressure, residents were evacuated as a precautionary measure to , at 7901 E. Minooka Road in Minooka, according to a news release.

"If there was a catastrophic failure, it would effect up to 1.8 miles," Lutz said.

In addition to evacuating residents, neighboring Aux Sable Liquid Products, which is in the village of Channahon, was evacuated as were all the plants within that 1.8-mile radius. (See the area that was evacuated on the map PDF attached to this article.)

Evacuation of residents was accomplished through a combination of reverse 911 calls and home visits.

"We did reverse 911 calls and then went door-to-door at the single rural residences," Grundy County Sheriff Terry Marketti said.

He estimated about 125 residents were evacuated.

Authorities also established a command post at Route 6 and Ridge Road in Minooka.

That command post began on-site at Lyondell, but was moved back to the Route 6 and Ridge Road location for safety reasons, Lutz said.

No one was injured in the incident, which began when a small fire erupted at the plant.

"The plant fire brigade extinguished that," Steffes said.

Dark steam could be seen trailing across the sky Sunday afternoon, but that was not the result of fire.

"They're diverting a lot of flammable through the steam stack," Lutz said.

Normally, steam is injected to dilute the product so the smoke is not black, but that was not possible in Sunday's incident because of the power outage.

"It's a really good way to destroy the product safely," Lutz said.

The facility has about 400 employees and uses natural gas to produce ethylene, which then is made into polyethylene plastic resins, according to the company’s website. The facility covers almost 900 acres, according to the website.

Check back with Channahon-Minooka Patch for updates on this developing story.

Amy Pavlik May 30, 2011 at 02:43 AM
I hope that LyondellBasell will be honest with the public. There will be alot of holiday parties this weekend. Can we serve our guest outside? Is our grass safe? Can the children play without any reactions to these chemicals. Chemicals is not on the menu for our guest! I hope that our community will not find out the hard way!
Michelle Williams May 30, 2011 at 06:03 AM
FYI - It's sunday night - the flame from the plant is HUGE and the ground is rumbling. I feel safe? How about you guys??
Kyle miller May 30, 2011 at 07:42 AM
Are you stupid if it wasn't safe you would be the first to know there saftey policy is the best around if there was anythingto worry about you wouldn't be where you are
MelissaB May 30, 2011 at 11:19 AM
To be honest, I'm not really worried about it. I think they have it under control. I belive that they were following protocol, just in case there was a worst case scenario. I''m just thankful that no one was hurt.
Jacki McHale May 30, 2011 at 12:07 PM
Monday morning we are still rumbling... can I get an idea of what that is? From the plant? Glad the evacuation and everything went well yesterday. Hoping all is well today!
mom of 2 May 30, 2011 at 12:23 PM
Yes, could someone please update us again as to the status of the plant this morning? Woke to what I thought was thunder, but it sounds like the plant is rumbling very loudly. Want to know what is rumbling over there!
Katie May 30, 2011 at 12:47 PM
The rumbling is coming from Lyondell. My husband and I thought itwas thunder early this morning than when it dint stop we thought maybe a earthquake because we could also feel the rubling but than when we woke up at 5:30 this morning and the rumbling was yet to stop we took a drive and the closer we got to Lyondell (which we live about 5 miles away) even in our car we could feel it even stronger. I'm not sure if I am worried about the chemical release since I do know they are known for their safety but I have lived here for 15 years and have never felt or heard lyondell rumble/ vibrate so are we really in the clear from another "incident"?
Rick May 30, 2011 at 01:24 PM
I hope that we can get something on this soon. My family evacuated to my in laws last night when we found out. Of course, the only was we found out was a text from a co-worker and a check on the web. I called the number I found and was given rather rude and blunt answer. If there is still this much rumbling this morning, then something isn't right.
Kathy B May 30, 2011 at 03:43 PM
We live near McLindon and chose to leave town. Our biggest concern is that we had to find out from friends in Essex who were listening to there scanner. With so many telemarketers and so little time... many people do not even look at their caller ID on their land line when the phone rings. If a 1.8 mile radious is who needed to be evacuated then a specific siren that is audible in that range would be nice. A tornado siren would not have told me anything accept that I should go to my basement! As a matter of fact the home in Joliet where we took refuge just had a tornado warning! Our friends told us to excuse the mess where they had thrown everything out of a closet to pile the family inside! Whelp, I guess if we're gonna live by these ticking bombs we should probably be extra vigalint from now on...
Amy Pavlik May 30, 2011 at 04:50 PM
What a way to respond to concerned citizens!
Dawn Aulet (Editor) May 30, 2011 at 05:47 PM
We are working on a follow-up for you guys.
nothin May 30, 2011 at 05:49 PM
The rumbling is nothing to be concerned about all it is, is the extreme amount of gas going to the flare to be burned off.
Dan May 30, 2011 at 07:44 PM
They use a lot of propane in the making of thier product. They have to burn off all the unstable mixtures or "blow out" the plant to start over. It's a VERY safe place. The rumble is from the gas and air pushing the product out the burn stack.
Michelle Williams May 30, 2011 at 09:01 PM
We should have answers. This is nuts
Michelle Williams May 30, 2011 at 09:02 PM
Exactly, this rumbling is new. Never did it before ever.
Michelle Williams May 30, 2011 at 09:03 PM
Yeah. Right.
Seth May 30, 2011 at 10:34 PM
Michelle, I can guess no answer is going to make you happy. Bottom line for this facility is safety of employees and it's neighbors. The rumbling is a very normal process to help keep things stable and aim towards a re-start. Also think about how many employees are still reporting to work to also help re-start the complex, do you really think they would go in knowing it could explode and / or be unsafe for them to be there. Rest assured they have area residents best interest in mind while they continue to repair and re-start.
Michelle Williams May 30, 2011 at 10:37 PM
Really? If it is so safe and sound, go about 3 miles down the road from my house and inhale the black smoke that is still billowing out of the stack two days later. I'm pretty sure that's not safe.
Michelle Williams May 30, 2011 at 10:38 PM
I'm also pretty sure that the rumbling sound isn't sound for the peace of mind of the numerous residents above who stated they were woken up out of sleep by it this morning. It's ridiculous.
scootrbum May 30, 2011 at 10:44 PM
Michelle, Dan is right . I worked at a refinery for 20 years and when you have an upset, like Lyondell had, you have to clear all the towers and vessels of potentially explosive liquids and gases. In doing so the release through the flare stack is such a large amount of gas that it expands dramatically when it exits the stack. That is the rumble you hear and feel.
Michelle Williams May 30, 2011 at 10:48 PM
Do they do that often? I have never felt that until the past 2 weeks out here. And what about the burning smoke?
mom of 2 May 31, 2011 at 12:34 AM
For those of you that think Lyondell is such a safe place, poke around on the Internet a little bit. You'll find that this company has been fined NUMEROUS times for releasing poisons into our air. They are one of the top polluters in the Midwest. Benzine is one chemical they have been over the limit in releasing quite often. They may have a great safety record for keeping the plant and workers safe, but keeping our ENVIRONMENT safe is another story. (info obtained from EPA website)
5yanx May 31, 2011 at 04:23 AM
I believe Lyondell owes the community an honest answer, about exactly what chemicals are burning off of that stack causing the unusual black smoke. An answer above and beyond the usual, "don't worry" form letter response of dilution is the solution to pollution would be responsible thing to do.
Michelle Williams May 31, 2011 at 04:27 AM
THANK YOU!
Bob May 31, 2011 at 11:57 AM
If people don't believe what they are being told ,why in Gods name did you move anywhere near a chemical plant and a nuclear power house ??????????????????
mom of 2 May 31, 2011 at 12:03 PM
Also read somewhere that the reason why the smoke is black is because they lost the ability to add steam to the stack in the incident. The steam dilutes the smoke so we don't see black smoke. So the article basically said whats coming out of the stack is the same thing that always comes out, (with a little more due to this incident) but we can just see it now. Lovely.
mom of 2 May 31, 2011 at 12:15 PM
Bob, I wish I hadn't. Hindsight is 20/20. I WISH I had done my research better before I moved here. I believed people when they told me places like Lyondell were safe. It wasn't until I was a member of the community that I discovered more info. I never knew Channahon gave off a "fishy smell" either until I moved here. (most people tell me the foul chemical fish smell is from another chem plant, Akso Nobel) Some days that's so strong I can't open a window. Can't be good or safe!!!! But again, I didn't know these things then. Shame on me for not doing more research on the numerous plants in the area. The nuke plant? That's the least of our worries here. Chemical plants ARE releasing hazardous pollutants right now. If the housing market wasn't completely upside down right now, believe me, I would not be here.
mom of 2 May 31, 2011 at 12:18 PM
Also Bob, I totally DID believe what I was being told until I found evidence to the contrary on EPA websites and others. That's why I DID move here.
Nick Coclanes May 09, 2013 at 12:29 AM
Get Jessie Ventura out here, i smell a new episode of conspiracy theories.
Nick Coclanes May 09, 2013 at 12:32 AM
Is that why there were black helicopters flying around yesterday?

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