Officials: 2 dead; dozens hurt at Texas chemical plant leak

LAPORTE, Texas (AP) — Two people are dead after a chemical leak Tuesday evening at plant in La Porte, Texas, company officials said.

The incident happened about 7:35 p.m. and involved an acetic acid leak at the LyondellBasell facility in the La Porte Complex, company spokesperson Chevalier Gray said in a statement. Emergency responders from the City of La Porte and Channel Industries Mutual Aid were on the scene Tuesday night.

Gray said two people “sustained fatal injuries” and four others sustained burns. The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office later confirmed dozens more were injured.

Harris County Fire Marshal Laurie Christensen said at a news conference Tuesday night that one person was life flighted to a hospital and one was sent by ambulance. Five others were treated at the scene and dozens were being monitored for symptoms that could include difficulty breathing and swallowing and irritants or burns to the skin.

The company said it was working closely with responders to confirm all employees were accounted for.

“Sometimes the terminology in these situations when there’s a leak, you think of something pouring out. A leak could also be something exploded off the top and the chemical came out. So once we get into the investigation, we’ll be able to specifically detail that out,” Christensen said.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo issued a statement on Twitter saying that she’s “heartbroken.”

“Heartbroken to hear of the two fatalities at the LyondellBasell facility in La Porte,” Hidalgo said in a tweet. “Our county and other first responder agencies are working to support the other workers impacted and to verify that Air monitoring demonstrated no levels of concern for the community, Gray said.

“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.

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