USA: Acetic Acid Released Chemical Leak at Lyondell Basell’s La Porte facility

Editor: Ahlam Rais

A week since the deadly chemical leak at Lyondell Basell’s La Porte facility in Texas, USA, one worker is still struggling for his life and two lawsuits have been filed against the chemical company.

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La Porte Complex: The site occupies approximately 550 acres and produces ethylene, propylene, linear low-density polyethylene and low-density polyethylene, as well as acetyls which are used to produce acetic acid and vinylacetate monomer.
La Porte Complex: The site occupies approximately 550 acres and produces ethylene, propylene, linear low-density polyethylene and low-density polyethylene, as well as acetyls which are used to produce acetic acid and vinylacetate monomer.
(Source: Lyondell Basell)

Texas/USA – On July 27, a large chemical leak occurred at Lyondell Basell’s 550 acre La Porte facility near Houston, Texas. On Tuesday night at about 7:35 p.m., approximately 100,000 pounds of acetic acid was leaked from the plant before it was stopped, according to an official statement from Lyondell Basell.

The leak was fixed overnight, however, two contractors were killed on the spot and 42 people in total were given treatment for injuries, burns and respiratory issues. Out of this, 35 suffered minor symptoms, six of them had serious symptoms and one is still in critical condition, state the latest news reports. The worker is covered in burns and is struggling for his life.

Recent news reports mention that two lawsuits have been filed against the chemical company and one of them mentions that the firm knew about the leak but did nothing to fix the problem. The other lawsuit blamed the company that it did not properly train employees, provide adequate equipment and maintain a safe work environment.

The cause of the incident is yet to be ascertained as investigations are still ongoing.

On monitoring the air, the company did not find any threatening levels of toxic chemicals. Lyondell Basell operates two businesses at the facility – chemicals and acetyls, which is where the leak occurred.

The unit was partially shut down due to planned maintenance when the incident took place. Acetic acid is used in food-grade vinegar and can cause severe burns, and is harmful if swallowed or inhaled.

The tragic incident has occurred just days after a Dow Chemical plant leak in La Porte, and another leak at Lyondell Basell’s unit in Galena Park, Texas.

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