LyondellBasell Chemical Leak Update: Burst Cap Likely to Blame for Deadly Incident

- Arnold & Itkin LLP

Last Tuesday, the LyondellBasell plant in La Porte was the location of a deadly chemical leak. Officials have confirmed that they believe a burst cap on a pressurized line is to blame for the leak that took the lives of 2 workers and injured 30 more.

The leak—amounting to approximately 100,000 pounds of acetic acid mixture—happened around 7:35 p.m. in the acetyls unit as maintenance work was being carried out. According to Harris County Pollution Control, the cap burst on the pressurized line, releasing a vapor cloud of acetic acid, methyl iodide, and hydrogen iodide. Most injuries at the scene were caused by this vapor cloud.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) confirmed that most of the leaked material was contained and will be treated on site. While officials have turned toward the burst cap as the cause for this deadly incident, their investigation is still ongoing.

LyondellBasell Has Multiple Recent Citations

The LyondellBasell plant is the third-largest producer of glacial acetic acid, a substance used to preserve food. Reports indicate that approximately 675 people work at the 550-acre plant, though it’s unclear how many of them were nearby at the time of the leak.

In the last decade, the La Porte complex has had five pollution violations totaling $237,761 from the TCEQ. Lyondell’s most recent fine occurred last year, when it was ordered to pay $109,903 for violating the Texas Water Code and releasing higher than acceptable levels of chemicals into the water.

Just weeks before this incident, residents complained of a garlic-like smell emitting from the LyondellBasell plant in Galena Park. Some reported feeling nauseated and having headaches after exposure to the smell. The company later confirmed that the odor was coming from a small leak in the facility and that it wasn’t dangerous.

Arnold & Itkin is currently representing multiple workers injured during the LyondellBasell La Porte chemical leak. If you’re suffering because of this incident, our lawyers are ready to help you decide what to do next—a consultation is free when you call (888) 493-1629. We help clients nationwide in cities such as Houston, Baytown, Sugar Land, Pasadena, Pearland, League City, La Porte, and beyond.

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