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Reuters: Shell says vapor released at Deer Park, Tex. plant

Mon Jun 19, 2006 2:08 PM ET

NEW YORK, June 19 (Reuters) – Shell Oil Co. said Monday the release of benzene-rich pyrolysis gas from a storage tank at its Deer Park, Texas, refinery is now under control, with no reports by employees or local residents of health problems.

As a result, Deer Park has lifted the “shelter-in-place” alert for the surrounding community and reopened Highway 225 at Deer Park.

The cause of the incident is still under investigation, but there has been no effect on production at the joint venture, which is a 340,000 barrel-per-day refinery, according to a statement from Shell.

The release of the pyrolysis gas occurred at about 9:30 a.m. CDT (1430 GMT) Monday, Shell said.

Benzene, found in gasoline and other fuels, has been shown to cause cancer, with some exposures resulting in leukemia, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration.

The shelter-in-place measure applied to residents and businesses north of San Augustine between Center Street and Georgia.

Repairs will commence once the cause is determined, but “a slight odor may be noticeable until repairs are completed,” Shell said.

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