Chemical spill causes 7-hour shelter in place

Hazmat cleaning up anhydrous hydrogen chloride

HOUSTON – Hazmat crews finished cleaning up a chemical leak in east Houston early Wednesday morning.

A tanker truck started leaking the chemical around 9 p.m. Tuesday night at the Con-Way Freight Distribution Center on Gazin and Old Clinton Road.

Houston fire investigators said a cylinder carrying anhydrous hydrogen chloride ruptured inside a tanker truck.

HFD investigators were concerned about runoff and the potential for a fume cloud, so they issued a shelter in place for a six-block area.

Fire crews were able to secure the chemical and call off the shelter in place around 4 a.m. Wednesday.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, anhydrous hydrogen chloride is highly corrosive gas. It can cause respiratory irritation, eye irritation, skin burns and liquid frostbite if touched.

The chemical is used in a variety of ways including chemical manufacturing, metal pickling, industrial cleaning, mining and oil-field acidizing, the Environmental Protection Agency's website said.