Chemical leak at warehouse leads to evacuation and shelter in place orders

Early on Saturday, a shelter in place order was imposed after a chemical leak in a warehouse in west Harris County, Texas. The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office reported a leak from an overhead refrigeration line in the 800,000-square-foot warehouse located in the 23600 block of Colonial Parkway.

Hazmat crews were called to the scene and about 10 to 12 people who were working on the line at the time of the leak were evacuated from the building.

The refrigerant, anhydrous ammonia, was no longer contained inside the building at around 1 a.m. ESD 48 Chief George McAteer revealed that crews could not reach the 16-foot tall line and experts had to come in to monitor the air with remote meters once the leak began leaving the building.

The leak could not be stopped, so the crews were pulled out. The Harris County Hazmat team was eventually able to enter the warehouse and shut down the generator. CenterPoint Energy turned off the power as well.

The feeder roads north and southbound of 99 at I-10 were reopened on Sunday after being closed for several hours as crews worked to contain the gas. The shelter in place order was issued at around 8:30 a.m. and lifted at around 1 p.m.

Fire Marshal C. Shaw stated that there were still some residual toxins inside the building and that on-site monitoring was required until they dissipated.

In order to prevent such events from happening again, Shaw said that they are requiring the warehouse to make all necessary repairs to ensure that their system operates as designed.