September 19, 2011 / 5:34 PM / in 6 years

UPDATE 1 - "All clear" after ethylene leak from Texas storage

* Leak at Mont Belvieu, key hub for natural gas liquids

* State highway closed for about an hour

* No exposures, no injuries, Targa Resources says

* Petrochemical companies use ethylene to make plastics

HOUSTON, Sept 19 (Reuters) - An ethylene leak, that temporarily closed a portion of a Texas highway near Houston, was “under control” late Monday morning, a Mont Belvieu police spokeswoman said.

The leak of the petroleum product, which is used to make plastics and other chemicals, occurred at the Targa Resources storage and shipment center in Mont Belvieu, Texas.

“They had some type of leak, but everything is under control,” said the police spokeswoman, who identified the substance leaked as ethylene.

“There were no exposures, no injuries, and the road was closed purely as a precaution,” a Targa spokesman said just after midday. “All clear.”

Ethylene is a liquid when stored under pressure but becomes a colorless, nearly odorless gas under atmospheric conditions. Inhalation of large quantities can be fatal, experts say.

The incident late Monday morning caused police to close about a one-mile-long stretch of Texas Highway 146 for about an hour, the spokeswoman said. It was reopened just before midday.

Mont Belvieu is a huge storage and pipeline transshipment site, and a New York Mercantile Exchange pricing hub, for natural gas liquids. Most of the storage is done in underground salt caverns.

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