“Chemical emergency” in La Porte area adds to Houston area’s catastrophe

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Updated 6:14 pm, Monday, August 28, 2017

Residents in several small cities at the mouth of Houston Ship Channel have been ordered to shelter in place after a pipeline or chemical leak in the area. A county hazmat team was dispatched.

The warning also extended to Shoreacres and Baytown, but not as far west as Deer Park. Local governments said to stay inside, shut off air conditioning, and close doors and windows.

The city of La Porte ordered residents on the northeast side to shelter in place after a pipeline leaked near the intersection of Texas 225 and Texas 146, according to the city’s official Facebook page.

“This is an area bordered by Farrington Rd. on the West, N. Ave H on the South and HWY 146 on the East,” the La Porte Police Department said in a statement, adding that officers were at work in the area. “We are asking all citizens to please stay out of the area. More information to follow as it becomes available.”

As a result, the city of Baytown said the Fred Hartman Bridge is closed over the Houston Ship Channel.

A hazmat team from the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office was en route to the scene as of 6 p.m., spokeswoman Rachel Moreno said.

The Harris County emergency management office tweeted, “Per City of Shoreacres: Chemical release notice. Shelter in place. Stay inside. Close windows/doors. Turn off air conditioning/ventilation.”

The nearby city of Deer Park tweeted that it was not issuing an order to shelter in place.

La Porte residents started posting on the city’s Facebook page about 5 p.m. asking why sirens were going off and seeking information. The city did not post about the shelter-in-place order until after 5:30 p.m.

Amy Martin, a La Porte resident, said she received an automated text message, phone call and email from the city with instructions to shelter in place because of a “chemical emergency.”

The outdoor sirens began to sound a few minutes later, Martin said. She added that she shut off her air conditioning, as instructed, and had yet to get the all-clear as of 5:50 p.m.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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