Some residents of La Porte, Texas, were asked to evacuate their homes this morning, and others were told to shelter in place following a toxic leak at a nearby Dow Chemical plant.
Dow Chemical Confirmed “Process Upset” at Bayport Plant
The July 21st incident occurred sometime before 7:30 a.m. when Dow Chemical confirmed that a “process upset” had occurred at its facility located at 13300 Bay Area Blvd in La Porte, about 25 miles from Houston.
“We are coordinating with local officials and working to resolve the issue as soon as possible,” the company said in a statement. “Stay tuned to local officials for more information”
The statement also noted that emergency vehicles and sirens might be noticeable in the community.
Residents Within ½ Mile of Dow Chemical Plant Urged to Leave
An alert issued at that time advised anyone living east of Bay Area Blvd. and south of Fairmont to go indoors, turn off their A/C system, and close all windows and doors.
La Porte Emergency Management announced a voluntary evacuation order at 8:30 a.m. for people living within a half-mile radius of the Dow Chemical plant. While the impacted area is mostly industrial, at least one neighborhood with fewer than 10 homes is within the evacuation zone.
The shelter-in-place order was lifted around 10:50 a.m., but the voluntary evacuation order remains in effect. Evacuees can find temporary shelter at the Bay Area Community Center, 5002 E. Nasa Parkway, and the East Harris County Activity Center – Kyle Chapman Annex, 7340 Spencer Highway.
Drivers have been urged to roll up their windows, turn off their A/C, and avoid the area whenever possible.
Dow Chemical Hydroxyethyl Acrylate Leak is Ongoing
According to Harris County Pollution Control, the Dow Chemical leak occurred when a tank wagon over-pressurized, causing a release of hydroxyethyl acrylate from the tank vent.
Also called ROCRYL 420, hydroxyethyl acrylate is used in acrylics for coating, adhesives, and UV reactive. Exposure to the chemical causes severe skin burns and eye damage. The chemical may also cause nose and throat irritation, allergic skin reactions, and is harmful if swallowed.
The Dow Chemical leak remains ongoing, and there’s no indication of when it might end. According to La Porte Chief of Police Steve Deardorff, air monitoring is currently underway.
Dow Chemical’s La Porte facility covers 139 acres near the Houston Ship Channel and is considered a leader in polyurethane production. Around 225 employees and 150 contractors work at the plant, which manufactures roughly one billion pounds of products annually.
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