Last night, we reported about a chemical leak at the LyondellBasell plant La Porte, Texas. At the time, officials had yet to reveal how many people were harmed by the industrial accident. Today, they’ve confirmed that the incident claimed the lives of 2 people and sent at least 30 others to the hospital. Reports indicate that the injured have required treatment for burns and respiratory problems.
According to Lee Woodward, a public information officer for La Porte, reports of the incident started around 7:30 p.m. when LyondellBasell requested support from La Porte EMS for a mass causality incident.
Plant officials have confirmed that the accident involved the release of approximately 100,000 points of acetic acid. According to the chemical plant’s site manager, the two people who were killed were contractors. While they aren’t yet certain what caused the accident, officials have confirmed that the plant was partially shut down for maintenance.
Currently, investigators are waiting for the affected unit to be decontaminated. The marshal’s office has confirmed that it has turned the investigation over to the Harris County Precinct 8 Constables Office.
The deadly La Porte chemical leak is the second incident to occur in area LyondellBasell plants this July. Earlier this month, the LyondellBasell Refinery—approximately 15 miles away in Galena Park—concerned residents as it emitted a toxic smell. LyondellBasell revealed that the odor was coming from a leak in the roof of one of the refinery's storage tanks.
Personal Care Services (PCS) identified the substances causing the smell as carbon disulfide, dimethyl disulfide, and methyl ethyl disulfide. These chemicals can cause irritation to the respiratory and digestive systems. Residents near the refinery reported headaches and nausea after exposure to the garlic-like smell coming from the refinery.
What Is Acetic Acid?
LyondellBasell calls itself a “leading manufacturer and global supplier of acetic acid.” Acetic acid is a colorless liquid that’s highly corrosive. It’s the active ingredient in vinegar, is used for descaling, and is a popular chemical reagent at industrial plants.
According to LyondellBasell, acetic acid is commonly used in chemical plants and factories to produce paints, adhesives, paper coatings, textile treatments, and plastics.
The highly corrosive and flammable nature of acetic acid make it a dangerous substance for workers at chemical plants. Most people are familiar with the smell and corrosive nature of acetic acid because of its use in vinegar—a mixture that is diluted with water to only contain 4% acetic acid. While vinegar is relatively safe if used properly, exposure to stronger industrial concentrations of acetic acid can quickly cause burns, eye damage, and inhalation injuries.
Our LyondellBasell accident lawyers will continue to follow any updates about this incident, including any details that might hint at what caused this accident to happen. We help clients nationwide in cities such as Houston, Baytown, Sugar Land, Pasadena, Pearland, League City, La Porte, and beyond.