Cleanup complete, evacuation lifted after Dow Louisiana chem leak

14 April 2010 16:15  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Cleanup of a chemical leak at Dow Chemical’s Norco unit in Louisiana was completed and local closures and evacuation orders were lifted, local authorities said on Wednesday.

No further protective actions were deemed necessary, and all schools were in session Wednesday, according to a statement from the St Charles Parish emergency operations office. The all-clear was given at 23:30 Louisiana time (4:30 GMT) on Tuesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, a pipeline ruptured at the unit, resulting in the release of titanium tetrachloride and leading to the evacuation of residents and the closure of area roads and schools.

Dow said the pipeline was quickly sealed off but local authoerities said the spilled titanium tetrachloride inside the unit released clouds of hydrogen chloride when it came into contact with humidity in the surrounding air, according to the local authorities.

Prevailing winds blew the chemical clouds over the facility’s spillway and away from homes and other populated areas, according to Dow and local officials. However, three residents sought medical attention following the incident, authorities said.

Dow did not comment on whether production at the unit was disrupted. The Norco unit produced Dow’s SHAC catalyst, which was used in the production of polypropylene (PP).

Air monitoring tests were conducted by Dow and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, but readings were not yet available.

Located just outside New Orleans, the Dow unit was inside of a Hexion Specialty Chemicals complex formerly owned by Shell Chemical, according to local reports.

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By: Ben DuBose
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