LA PORTE, Texas - When substantial leaks erupt within the Houston area petrochemical complex - bad things usually happen.
Wednesday’s massive release at the LyondellBasell plant in La Porte would prove no different, claiming two lives and forcing the hospitalization of 30 others.
"This unit was partially shut down due to maintenance when the incident occurred," said Stephen Goff, plant director. "Approximately 100,000 pounds of acetic acid was released."
50 tons of toxic material LyondellBasell claims has been contained on site.
As decontamination and clean-up commenced, the company offered assurances to those living and working near the plant.
"For our community neighbors, our air monitoring continues to demonstrate there were no off-site impacts," said Michael VanDersnick, LyondellBasell Manufacturing Director.
Not far away, Mahmood Moody's truck stop is perched on Hwy 225 perilously close to LyondellBasell and other plants. He considers those who make their living in the area and frequent his store as "family".
Wednesday’s fatal leak has left him fearing, more than usual, for the future welfare of his friends and customers.
"What is the reason these things are happening? It shouldn't be happening," said Moody. "They should concentrate more on safety for their employees and the public."
Determining what went wrong and why is now in the hands of a host of investigators – The EPA, OSHA, the Chemical Safety Board, TCEQ, and the Harris County Fire Marshal.
For its part, LyondellBasell insists the search for answers is welcome.
"No one ever wants an incident like this to happen and when it does it has an effect on us all," said VanDersnick. "We will find out what led to this release to find what happened so we can prevent it from ever happening again."
At least one of the injured employees is reportedly in critical condition. The identities of those killed have not yet been released.