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Storage Tank at Lousiana Dow Chemical Plant Leaks Again

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A second leak of ethyl acrylate was reported at a Dow Chemical Plant in Hahnville, Louisiana yesterday.  The second leak occurred as crews at the Dow Chemical St. Charles Operations Center were cleaning up from a leak  that occurred earlier this week in the same 640,000 gallon storage tank.  According to WDSU.com,  such intermittent leaks of ethyl acrylate  could continue for several days while the cleanup is ongoing.

According to the New Orleans-Times Picayune, a  malfunctioning vent on the 640,000 gallon tank apparently led to the initial release on Tuesday.  Plant officials said an unrelated problem with that same tank was reported to the state in April. Neither Dow nor parish and state officials would say exactly how much ethyl acrylate escaped and became airborne, the Times-Picayune said.

The original leak  forced evacuation of the area around the Dow Chemical plant.  Some residents were forced out of their homes until Wednesday afternoon.  Because of winds and storms in the area, ethyl acrylate fumes were carried as far away as New Orleans, and St. Bernard’s Parish.

Dozens of people were treated at the hospital for ethyl acrylate side effects.  The foul-smelling chemical is known to cause nausea and headaches, and can irritate the skin, eyes, nose and throat.  Anyone experiencing such symptoms has been advised to seek medical attention.

The injury count from Tuesday’s leak at  Dow Chemical’s  has now reached 33, with two people treated at the hospital yesterday.  The second ethyl acrylate leak occurred in the same storage tank yesterday morning at around 6:30, and residents nearby complained about the nauseating smell throughout the day, WDSU.com said.  Although most said the odor from the chemical wasn’t nearly as bad as it had been on Tuesday, some did complain of feeling worse than they had when the original incident took place.

According to Dow Chemical officials, the second leak occurred when workers were attempting to neutralize the chemical and move it to sealed containers.  Some small amount of ethyl acrylate was not neutralized, and made its way  into the air.  No one at Dow Chemical could say how long residents living in the area might have to deal with this problem, WDSU.com said.

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