Coast Guard responds to chemical release

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (D8 Public Affairs) – The Coast Guard responded to a chemical release at the Occidental chemical facility in La Quinta marine channel today.

At 5:30 a.m. the DuPont chemical facility adjacent to the Occidental chemical facility reported that alarms on their facility indicated vinyl chloride monomer (VCM). Oxychem, owners of the Occidental Chemical Facility and major producer of VCM, immediately shut down the operation at the facility. The source of the VCM release was a vessel at their pier named VENUSGAS. VCM is the chemical used in the production of PVC pipe and, at room temperature; it is a toxic, colorless gas.

A Coast Guard inspection team arrived on scene to evaluate the severity of the situation and checked the condition of the vessel’s monitoring systems. At approximately 3:00 p.m. handheld chemical sensors indicated the presence of VCM gas in the compressor room of the VENUSGAS. The space and ship were secured and all exposed individuals, including the Coast Guard inspection team, were taken to the hospital. Up to 30 people were exposed to the gas. Some crewmembers from the vessel are still at Spohn Shoreline Hospital being attended to and all are reported to be in stable condition. The Coast Guard inspection team has been released with no reports of side affects.

At the present time, the vessel owner of VENUSGAS is coordinating a hazardous material response to determine the source of the chemical release. The Coast Guard is working with Oxychem and monitoring the situation.

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