Chemical Leak at Dow Plant in CA

Friday, July 10, 2015 @ 05:07 PM gHale

A chemical leak at Dow Chemical Plant near Freeport, CA, forced officials to shut down roads in Brazoria County Thursday.

The leak occurred sometime before 4:30 a.m., according to the Department of Public Safety.

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Troopers said there were no injuries in the incident. No orders went out to nearby residents to evacuate or shelter-in-place.

The leak occurred at the company’s Oyster Creek facility, said Trish Thompson, a Dow spokeswoman. Trace amounts of hydrocarbons released during a “process upset” at a cracking unit.

Workers at the site and at a nearby facility stayed indoors as a precaution, she said. But by 7:30 p.m., an all-clear order went out at the nearby facility. Workers at the site where the release occurred had to wear protective gear if they ventured outdoors.

The cracker where the released occurred has been shut down, Thompson said. A cracker transforms hydrocarbons into intermediate chemicals. Air monitors at the site, she added, are not detecting elevated amounts of hydrocarbons.

Investigators are trying to determine what caused the leak. The incident initially forced officials to shutdown portions of Highway 332.

Dow, however, may be facing some other issues in the release as City of Freeport officials said they thought there was an emergency plan in place to let people know what is going on.

Right after Thursday’s chemical leak, Freeport officials said Dow only told Brazoria County officials, not them.

“I learned this morning turning on (television news). Then, I called my fire chief, emergency management. We were not informed of it. It’s very concerning,” Freeport City Manager Jeff Pynes said.

There is a system put in place to notify and respond in the event of a plant emergency. The system is CAER, (Community Awareness and Emergency Response). However, CAER did not notify the City of Freeport on Thursday.

“We can’t be left in the dark while we are trying to protect our community,” Pynes said.

Dow did release a statement:

“In the future, more direct efforts will be made for Dow officials to also contact Freeport City Management in order to provide up to date information.”