UNITED STATES. Texas: At least two people were dead and dozens were injured after a leak at a La Porte chemical plant, Texas on Tuesday night, authorities said.
The chemical company LyondellBasell said in a statement on Wednesday that about 100,000 pounds (45,359 kilograms) of a mixture which primarily included acetic acid was released in the leak that started at its La Porte complex near Houston, resulting in the deaths.
The incident began at about 7:35 p.m. when “LyondellBasell La Porte requested support from La Porte EMS regarding a mass casualty incident at their facility,” La Porte’s public information officer Lee Woodward told CNN.
The company said that early Wednesday the “all clear” was given and that the leak had been isolated and contained.
Acetic acid “is a chemical acid used in food-grade vinegar,” Harris County Fire Marshal Laurie Christensen explained in a news conference. “The issue that occurs is severe burns, harmful if swallowed, toxic if inhaled and harmful to the skin.”
Harris County Pollution Control spokesperson Dimetra Hamilton told the Houston Chronicle that a cap burst on a pressurized line of acetic acid.
The cause of the leak is yet to be ascertained, but the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office determined that it wasn’t caused by an explosion or fire, they said on Twitter.
“Our on-site incident response team responded quickly, and the leak is stopped,” LyondellBasell said, adding that air-quality monitoring near the plant shows “no level of concern” for residents. Thirty people were taken to the hospital for treatment and evaluation of injuries after the leak. Twenty-four of those people have since been released.
Harris County Judge Line Hidalgo, who represents La Porte, said on Twitter saying that she is “heartbroken to hear of two fatalities” at the facility.
A LyondellBasell statement said: “We want to understand what happened and why, so learnings from this can be applied throughout our company to help prevent a similar incident from happening again.”
Last week in La Porte, at a Dow Chemical plant, a tank truck trailer had over-pressurized, causing the chemical hydroxyethyl acrylate to escape through a safety valve. The orders of evacuation and shelter-in-place were later lifted.