LA PORTE, Texas - Businesses and residents can now return to the area surrounding Dow Chemical, after the evacuation order was lifted on Thursday afternoon.
The order was in place for a half-mile radius around the La Porte plant following the chemical release from one of its tanker trucks.
An All Clear has been given after the incident forced a shelter-in-place on Wednesday morning, but evacuations were still in place.
Dow Chemical experienced a "Process Upset" just before 7:30 a.m. According to the plant, it was a chemical release from a tank truck at their Bayport Site. The release triggered alarms at the facility.
Officials have identified the chemical as Hydroxy Ethyl Acrylate, or HEA, most commonly used in acrylics for coating and adhesives.
"There is no indication by monitoring data that this event has caused off-site impact," Dow Chemical reports. "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."
HEA is known to cause irritation of the nose and throat, and contact with the liquid can irritate the eyes and skin.
The La Porte Fire Department issued the evacuation order for a half-mile radius around 13300 Bay Area Blvd. A section of W Fairmont Parkway and Bay Area were also closed, as shown in the map below.
During a noon news conference on Wednesday, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced that the chemical venting had stopped. However, there was concern that the chemical was not neutralized and a build-up could be taking place.
"Venting has stopped by now but what is not clear is whether it stopped because the reaction has stopped or whether it’s stopped because there’s so much reaction, so much heat and pressure being built up within that tanker that it’s clogging that vent," said Judge Hidalgo.
There were also two nearby trucks that could have posed a danger. One truck was carrying HEA and the other was carrying Methyl methacrylate. So crews checked thermal temperatures in the area.
Residents received an All Clear a little over three hours after the incident was reported.
Dow Chemical, which is located at 13300 Bay Area Blvd, worked with local officials to ensure a safe resolution so residents and businesses could operate safely.
Dow Chemical released the following statement in regards to the incident:
Dow’s Houston Operations Bayport site had a tank wagon vent Hydroxy Ethyl Acrylate (HEA) this morning. There is no indication by monitoring data that this event has caused off-site impact. 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.
Thanks to the work of our employees, contract partners, and emergency services there are no injuries associated with this ongoing event.
We will continue to keep you updated and please stay tuned to the Office of Emergency Preparedness for shelter in place directions.
HEA is an acrylic used in coatings and adhesives.