LA PORTE, Texas — Investigators are working to find out what happened in the moments leading up to a deadly acid leak at a La Porte facility.
Two people were killed and 30 were taken to area hospitals, according to officials. Three people remain in the hospital, one of them is in serious condition, officials said.
"One serious injury that was burn-related. The others were more respiratory nature," LyondellBasell Site Manager Stephen Goff said.
Company officials said the incident was contained to the plant. According to LyondellBasell officials, there was a leak from an acetic acid reactor.
"Approximately 100,000 pounds of acetic acid was released. The release was quickly stopped. It's believed to be contained at the site," Goff said.
Early Wednesday morning, the all-clear was given and employees were allowed to return to work.
Company officials said the unit where the leak happened was partially shut down due to planned maintenance.
Officials with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said the material released was a mixture of catalyst, acetic acid, methyl iodide, and hydrogen iodide.
The Harris County Fire Marshal's Office said the chemicals are used to make medical supplies and food-grade vinegar.
The TCEQ said most of the material was contained and will be treated at the facility's on-site wastewater treatment plant.
"Testing will be performed to confirm no off-site impact. Cleanup and decontamination were initiated overnight," Goff said.
Officials have not released the identities of those who were killed or injured.
"No one wants an incident like this to happen, and when it does, it has an effect on us all," LyondellBasell Senior Vice President of Manufacturing Michael VanDerSnick said. "We will find out what led to this release how it happened and to prevent a situation like this from happening ever again."
Harris County Pollution Control Services Department officials said there is no threat to the air quality in the area, but they are continuing to monitor.
Several agencies are investigating the incident, including TCEQ, HCFMO, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Harris County Precinct 8 Constable's Office and the Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (HCOHSEM). A chemical safety board team is expected to arrive on Wednesday night.
"We are not sure what really happened. The company has to work on some decontamination that has to place before we can actually enter that area the company is working at that now," HCFMO Asst. Chief Bob Royall said.