Texas chemical company issues shelter-in-place order after toxic gas leak

A major chemical company in the Texas city of La Porte issued a shelter-in-place order for nearby residents and workers after a toxic gas leak saw eight people taken to the hospital.

Altivia Chemical said it was working to contain a leak of a gas called phosgene from its plant, as the city’s emergency management agency ordered residents and five neighboring chemical facilities to shelter in place out of caution.

Local media reported all of the eight injured were in stable condition at the time they were leaving the facility but were sent to the hospital as a precaution.

Located about 30 miles (48 km) east of Houston, La Porte’s office of emergency management (LPOEM) said the city issued a cautionary shelter-in-place until the amount of phosgene released is determined.

“A chemical emergency has occurred and residents south of Fairmont between Bay Area and S 16th Street need to immediately shelter in place,” LPOEM said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Altivia could not immediately be reached for comment, but the shelter-in-place order was later lifted, about an hour after being put in place.

Phosgene is a colorless gas with a suffocating odor similar to musty hay that is used in the manufacture of other chemicals, pesticides and pharmaceuticals, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Exposure to phosgene may cause vomiting, breathing difficulty, chest pain and, when liquid, frostbite.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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