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2 Dead, 30 Hospitalized After ‘Mass Casualty’ Incident At LyondellBasell Chemical Plant Near La Porte

Houston Chemical Leak HPM
Lucio Vasquez
Houston Public Media
Outside the LyondellBasell chemical plant near La Porte in unincorporated Harris County, on July 27, 2021. Two people died and others were hospitalized after a chemical leak.

Updated 7:21 a.m. CT Wednesday

Two people are confirmed dead and 30 were hospitalized in what La Porte officials called a "mass casualty" incident at a LyondellBasell chemical plant Tuesday night in unincorporated Harris County.

The La Porte Office of Emergency management confirmed LyondellBasell requested support around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday for an acetic acid leak at the company's 1515 Miller Cut Off Road facility, near the city.

A company spokesperson said roughly 100,000 pounds of acetic acid was released.

Two people died on scene, and five others were treated and released, according to the company and the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office.

Of the 30 people hospitalized, most were treated for respiratory issues. One was treated for a serious burn, according to the spokesperson, Stephen Goff.

The company had previously reported four people transported for burn treatment in addition to the two dead.

Christensen said that the cause of the incident — which she called a "chemical type explosion" release inside the plant — is still under investigation.

The conditions of those hospitalized was unknown as of Wednesday morning.

Harris County Fire Marshal Laurie Christensen identified the chemicals as methyl iodide, hydrogen iodide, and methyl acetate — a chemical acid used in food-grade vinegar that can cause severe burn, and is harmful if swallowed, toxic if inhaled, and harmful to the skin, she said.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo confirmed on Twitter that the county was assisting in the response.

The leak was fixed overnight, and cleanup in underway, according to LyondellBasell. All company personnel have been accounted for.

The incident comes less than a week after a leak at the Dow Chemical Co. Bayshore plant in La Porte that lasted more than a day. No one died during the Dow plant leak, but local officials evacuated a half-mile radius around the facility, fearing a possible explosion.

Another leak at a separate LyondellBasell facility earlier this month created a toxic smell in Galena Park that lasted for days. No one was injured, but residents reported feeling nausea and headaches.

This is a developing story and will be updated.