Louisiana plant acid leak leads causes haze, closes highway



GEISMAR, La. (AP) — A chemical manufacturing plant in Louisiana leaked gaseous hydrochloric acid, causing a visible haze and leading to a brief highway shutdown.

News outlets report the leak found Wednesday at Westlake Chemical in Geismar led state environmental officials to worry about a possible acid cloud. A state Department of Environmental Quality report says Westlake officials say they don’t believe such a cloud formed.

Company officials called for workers to shelter in place and ordered state Highway 73 to temporarily close near the site. The state report says Westlake officials blamed the leak on a faulty pipe flange. Westlake says the leak was secured within about an hour. It says Westlake didn’t detect any off-site chemical escape.

Spokesman Chip Swearngan says Westlake still is calculating just how much of the chemical leaked.

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