9 hurt in chemical leak at Texas City plant

Shelter-in-place lifted in Texas City

TEXAS CITY - Texas City authorities lifted a Level 3 emergency shelter-in-place early Thursday after a chemical leak that sent nine people to the hospital.

They issued the all-clear at 5:08 a.m., after a night of worry for the community.

It started at 11 p.m. Wednesday when the city sent out an automated warning telling residents to shelter-in-place. They said a hydrochloric acid tank started leaking at the Dallas Group of America plant, 301 Dock Road. The acid created a cloud that formed around midnight, and floated over a portion of the city.

"We received reports that a tank of hydrochloric acid had failed. A large vapor cloud occurred in the Port area," said Bruce Clawson with the Texas City Office of Emergency Management.

Officials said 300 gallons of hydrochloric acid burst out of the tank.

Four firefighters and five employees of the facility were injured. Most reported burning eyes and respiratory distress.

All nine were transported to the Mainland Medical Center in stable condition.

The Environmental Protection Agency said hydrochloric acid is used in the production of chlorides, fertilizers, and dyes, in electroplating, and in the photographic, textile, and rubber industries.

It is corrosive to the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes.  Short-term inhalation can cause eye, nose, and respiratory tract irritation and inflammation and pulmonary edema.

The cause of the leak is under investigation.

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