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La Porte Issues Evacuation Notice Near Dow Chemical Plant

The signs for the Dow Chemical operations stand in front of the plant.
AP Photo
Pat Sullivan, File
This Dec. 10, 2015, file photo, shows a Dow Chemical plant in La Porte.

Updated 11:05 a.m. CT

The La Porte Fire Department is asking residents within a half-mile radius of the Dow Chemical Co. Bayport plant to evacuate the area due to an ongoing chemical release.

The alert came around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Dow Chemical reported a "process upset incident" at 7:27 a.m. Wednesday, in its 13300 Bay Area Boulevard facility. Harris County Pollution Control confirmed the incident was a chemical leak at the plant.

Air monitoring from Harris County Pollution Control confirmed no off-site impact as of 10:47 a.m.

La Porte Independent School District canceled secondary summer school for the day, and a shelter in place notice for all areas of La Porte east of Bay Area Boulevard was lifted around 10:50 a.m., though the evacuation notice near the plant remained in effect.

A Dow spokesperson said the company was working with local officials to resolve the issue.

"There is no indication by monitoring data that this event has caused off-site impact," read a statement from Dow public affairs director Stacey B. Gautreau. "However, out of an abundance of caution, employees were evacuated and we continue to work with the Office of Emergency Preparedness on a shelter in place."

The company also said it would provide Facebook updates throughout the morning.

Residents evacuated from the area can find temporary shelter at the Bay Area Community Center, 5002 E. Nasa Parkway, and the East Harris County Activity Center – Kyle Chapman Annex, 7340 Spencer Highway.

According to Pollution Control, the leak occurred when a tank wagon over-pressurized, causing a release of hydroxyethyl acrylate from the tank vent.

The chemical, also known as ROCRYL 420, is an acrylic used in coatings and adhesives to provide scratch resistance, chemical resistance, weatherization and other properties, according to the company.

Hydroxyethyl acrylate causes severe skin burns and eye damage, may cause an allergic skin reaction, and is harmful if swallowed, according to Dow.

The release remains ongoing, with no indication of when it will end, Pollution Control said.

Additional reporting from Katie Watkins.

This is a developing story and will be updated.