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A cloud of sulfuric acid rises from a leak at the Honeywell plant in Geismar Saturday evening.St. Gabriel Police Chief Kevin Ambeau said it was a sulfuric acid leak and advised people living in the area to stay indoors, keep their windows closed and turn off their air conditioners.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO by SOUTHERN HELICOPTER

Update, 10:17 a.m.; Aug. 14

Statement from Honeywell spokesman: “The sulfuric acid leak at the Honeywell Geismar plant was stopped at approximately 11 p.m. Saturday evening and the shelter in place for employees of the site and neighboring sites was lifted soon after. Louisiana DEQ officials were on-site during the incident and the plant is cooperating with the DEQ and local authorities. The plant is conducting a thorough investigation of incident.”

Update, 12:01 a.m.; Aug. 14

The shelter in place and roadblocks for the Honeywell plant have been lifted, according to the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office.

Original story

A chemical leak was reported Saturday evening at the Honeywell plant in Geismar, an official said.

The sulfuric acid leak is the second one to happen Saturday, said Kevin Ambeau, police chief in nearby St. Gabriel. One happened in the morning and another later in the day.

Capt. Cody Melancon, commander of the Ascension sheriff's hazardous materials team, said the leak let out a white fog of sulfuric acid that blew northwest toward La. 3115, La. 30 and Iberville Parish. The Honeywell plant is located at the corner of River Road and La. 3115.

The area immediately around the plant is sparsely populated and Melancon said he did not know if the cloud reached any populated areas, including St. Gabriel in Iberville Parish.

He said the sulfuric acid began leaving the Honeywell plant about 5:30 p.m. but emergency responders were able to spray water on it to suppress it.

"We've knocked the cloud down so there is no off-site impact right now. There is no sulfuric acid leaving the facility, and that's been confirmed by air monitoring," Melancon said.

He said authorities have not yet been able to get into the area of the leak to assess the best way to halt it.

He said options include trying to get inside and shut off the leak or, if responders cannot safely get near the leak, continue spraying water on it until the supply of sulfuric acid stops leaking on its own.

Melancon said the storage vessel that holds the acid was about three-quarters full when it started leaking.

Melancon couldn't immediately say how soon the situation would be resolved.

"We like our situation right now," Melancon said, "because it's not leaving the facility and no one is at risk."

He added, however, that workers in three nearby plants, Williams Olefins, Total and PCS Nitrogen, have been directed to shelter in place for the time being.

PCS Nitrogen and Williams are partially in Ascension and partially in Iberville. Total is completely in Iberville.

Ambeau said people who live in the St. Gabriel area should stay indoors, keep their windows closed and turn off their air conditioners, Ambeau said.

"Our eyes are burning out here," he said.

Residents shouldn't try to leave because main roads are blocked due to high water, he said. La. 30 is blocked at intersections with La. 74 and at La. 3115, and La. 75 is blocked at La. 3115.

Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley said Saturday his deputies are manning road blocks at La. 30 and 3115. He said it was not clear how serious the situation was as of Saturday evening.  

Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.