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At Least 2 Dead and Dozens Injured in 'Mass Casualty' Chemical Plant Leak in Texas

·2 min read

Investigators are working to find the cause of a leak of 100,000 pounds of acetic acid at a chemical plant in Texas Tuesday night that killed two people and injured 30 workers, according to company officials and multiple news outlets.

In what local officials described as a "mass casualty incident," the leak occurred at the La Porte facility of LyondellBasell at 7:35 p.m. Tuesday, according to the company.

Of the 30 who were hospitalized, one person suffered burns and the remainder had respiratory complications, LyondellBasell officials said Wednesday morning in a press briefing, streamed by Houston ABC affiliate KTRK.

In addition to the two fatalities at the scene, two people were in critical condition, Harris County Fire Marshal's Office spokesperson Rachel Neutzler told CNN.

Twenty-four people have been treated and released, company officials said at the press briefing. Government agencies and law enforcement officials are investigating what happened, and air monitoring shows that there has not been any off-site impact, officials also said.

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The La Porte Complex, located about 25 miles east of Houston, is the world's third largest producer of glacial acetic acid. It can be used to make paints, plastics, fibers, film, inks and cosmetics and is also an ingredient of vinegar, according to the LyondellBasell website.

But glacial acetic acid is a flammable liquid that can cause severe skin burns and eye damage, according to the National Library of Medicine.

By 5:15 a.m. Wednesday, LyondellBasell gave the all clear at the plant and said in a statement that its response team "acted quickly to isolate and contain the leak."

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"Approximately 100,000 pounds of a mixture which includes acetic acid was released. Cleanup is continuing at this time," the company said in the statement. "Air monitoring conducted during the incident did not indicate actionable levels and monitoring is ongoing."

"No one ever wants an incident like this to happen, and when it does, it has an effect on us all," LyondellBasell Senior Vice President Michael VanDerSnick said at the Wednesday morning press briefing. "We will find out what led to this release, and we'll work to understand how it happened to prevent situation like this from ever happening again."

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