La Porte Emergency Management declared the end of a shelter-in-place for residents on Monday, subsequent to an emergency arising from a chemical leak at the nearby ALTIVIA Chemical Complex. The incident involved a process upset at the complex, resulting in the release of phosgene, a colorless gas with a suffocating odor reminiscent of musty hay. Emergency responders are currently engaged in fence line monitoring to ensure safety.
Promptly following the incident, an alert from the city advised residents south of Fairmont, between Bay Area and S. 16th Street, to immediately seek shelter in place. Affected individuals were urged to proceed to the nearest building, close all doors and windows, and turn off heating or cooling systems. The shelter-in-place order, implemented for safety measures, was lifted at 1:16 p.m.
Phosgene exposure can lead to various health issues, including eye irritation, dry burning throat, vomiting, coughing, foamy sputum, breathing difficulties, chest pain, and frostbite when in liquid form, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Workers exposed to phosgene may face potential harm.
Despite the concerns, mobile monitoring is in place, and Harris County Pollution Control has affirmed that the air quality remains safe. ALTIVIA Chemical Complex, established in 1986 as a water treatment chemical producer, specializes in phosgene derivative intermediates and operates the third-largest merchant production facility of phenol, acetone, and alpha-methyl styrene (AMS) in the Americas, as per information available on the company’s website.