At least two people are dead and seven are injured after a chemical leak at a plant at a Houston suburb Tuesday night, company officials said.
The incident involved a “very small” acetic acid leak within the LyondellBasell facility in the La Porte Complex east of Houston, said Harris County Fire Marshal Laurie Christensen in a news conference.
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.
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Acetic acid “is a chemical acid used in food-grade vinegar,” Christensen said. “The issue that occurs is severe burns, harmful if swallowed, toxic if inhaled and harmful to the skin.”
The cause of the leak has not been given, but the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office determined that it wasn’t caused by an explosion or fire, they said on Twitter.
LyondellBasell is the third largest chemical manufacturer in the United States. Headquartered in Houston, the La Porte plant was built in 2017.
Company spokesperson Chevalier Gray said two people “sustained fatal injuries” and four others sustained burns. Christensen later confirmed at least three more injuries. All employees were accounted for, the company later said.
Christensen also said that the Marshal’s Office was monitoring 31 other people, but that the leak was contained to the facility. It has been isolated and there is no threat to the city of LaPorte at this time, the Marshal’s Office said on Twitter.
“The area is in unincorporated Harris County, adjacent to the city of La Porte. There is no shelter in place or other protective actions being recommended for the La Porte community at this time,” according to a statement issued by La Porte EMS.
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.
“Our county and other first responder agencies are working to support the other workers impacted and to verify that the incident is contained,” Hidalgo said in a tweet, adding: “Grateful to all responders.”
Contributing: The Associated Press.
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