Toxic Cloud Warning in Texas City

Monday, October 29, 2012 @ 10:10 AM gHale

A toxic cloud formed after 300 gallons of hydrochloric acid leaked at a Texas City, TX, storage facility sending 9 people to hospitals and forcing thousands of residents indoors late Wednesday, officials said Thursday.

Four firefighters were among those hospitalized for exposure after a tank ruptured at a storage facility near the Port of Texas City, Bruce Clawson of the local emergency management office said.

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Emergency management officials ordered more than 45,000 residents of Texas City to remain indoors, turn off air conditioning units and make sure they closed all windows and doors until the vapor cloud dissipated. They lifted the order 6 a.m., Clawson said.
Officials did not immediately detail what caused the tank to rupture late Wednesday at the Dallas Group of America’s facility near the port.

City officials were working to clean up the leak, Clawson said.

None of those exposed to the chemical cloud sustained life-threatening injuries, officials said.

Hydrochloric acid was the chemical stored at the facility, but what the company was using it for was not immediately clear. Hydrochloric acid has a number of industrial uses. It also has a corrosive effect on human tissue, with the potential to damage the lungs, eyes, skin, and intestines.

It is not the first time the residents of Texas City have dealt with a threat from a chemical leak.

In March, there was an acid leak at BP’s refinery in the port city. And last year, several dozen homes evacuated when 250,000 gallons of gasoline spilled following a pipeline rupture.

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