Harvey: TX Pipeline Leak Contained

Thursday, August 31, 2017 @ 05:08 PM gHale

During Hurricane Harvey, La Porte, TX, firefighters and a Harris County hazardous materials team contained a chemical spill Monday after a pipeline ruptured on the northeast side of La Porte in the petrochemical district about 20 miles east of downtown Houston.

Around 4:30 p.m. Monday, residents of La Porte, Baytown and Shoreacres were warned to shelter in place – meaning they should stay inside, shut off air conditioning and close doors and windows.

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La Porte police and the city of Shoreacres signaled shortly after 7 p.m. the incident was resolved. There were no injuries in the incident.

“We have given the all clear,” said La Porte police Sgt. Bennie Boles. “Roadways are opened.”

“The chemical release has been contained,” the city of Shoreacres said in a release from the Harris County emergency management office.

The chemical that leaked just north of the interchange between Texas 225 and Texas 146 was anhydrous hydrogen chloride, “which presents symptoms of eye, throat, and nasal irritation,” La Porte city officials said.

A federal safety guide identifies hydrogen chloride as a corrosive poison gas that “can cause serious or permanent injury.” The guide describes the chemical as a “colorless gas with a sharp, pungent odor.” The non-flammable substance is part of the manufacturing process for “rubber, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and in gasoline refining and metals processing.”

Residents ended up ordered to shelter in place on La Porte’s northeast side, in the area contained by Farrington Road on the west, North Avenue H on the south and Texas 146 on the east.

As a result, the city of Baytown said the Fred Hartman Bridge was closed over the Houston Ship Channel.

A hazardous materials team from the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office was on scene by 6:30 p.m., agency spokeswoman Rachel Moreno said. They worked with local firefighters and the pipeline company, as Harris County pollution control officials monitored air quality.

“Our team has cleared the scene and is headed home,” Moreno said about 7:30 p.m.

The La Porte Police Department did not identify the owner of the pipeline but said “the company responsible for the line and the cause of the leak is being investigated and will be determined at a later date.”

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