Latest: Colonial closes key gasoline pipeline amid Harvey

HOUSTON (AP) — The Latest on Tropical Depression Harvey (all times local):

8:25 a.m.

Colonial Pipeline says it plans to shut down a key line that supplies gasoline to the South due to storm-related refinery shutdowns and Harvey’s effect on its facilities west of Lake Charles, Louisiana.

The Georgia-based company said in a statement that it expects to shut off the line Thursday. The company had already closed down another line that transports primarily diesel and aviation fuels.

The pipeline provides nearly 40 percent of the South’s gasoline.
In September 2016, a leak and gas spill in Alabama that closed the Colonial Pipeline led to days of empty gas station pumps and higher prices in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas.

The company didn’t say how long it expects the closure to last, saying it will know more when workers can evaluate its facilities.

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7:50 a.m.

Local officials say explosions at a flooded Houston-area chemical plant produced no toxins, although federal authorities are describing the resulting plumes as “incredibly dangerous.”

Assistant Harris County Fire Chief Bob Rayall told a news conference Thursday that the explosions emitted 30- to 40-foot (9- to 12-meter) flames and black smoke.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said no toxins were released and that there’s no danger to the community. He says sheriff’s deputies who were hospitalized suffering from irritated eyes after the blasts have all been released.

But at a news conference in Washington, D.C. Thursday, FEMA administrator Brock Long said he considers plumes from the explosion “incredibly dangerous.”

Gonzalez says he expects the fire to burn itself out.

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6:20 a.m.

A Houston mother is warning people in the area to stay out of Harvey’s floodwaters after her son was electrocuted while wading through the water to check on his sister’s home.

Jodell Pasek says her 25-year-old son Andrew was unaware that a landscape light had electrified the water when he stepped into it Tuesday afternoon. She said he fell and grabbed a lamppost and told a friend who was with him to stay away because he was dying.

She says she’s speaking out despite her grief to ensure her son didn’t lose his life in vain.

Pasek lost her older son in a car accident in 1993. She tells KPRC-TV that she’s pulling her strength from that experience.

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5:10 a.m.
Two explosions have been reported at a Houston-area chemical plant that lost power amid flooding from Harvey.

The Houston Chronicle says a statement from the company says the Harris County Emergency Operations Center reported two explosions and black smoke coming from the Arkema Inc. plant early Thursday.

In a tweet, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said a deputy was taken to the hospital after inhaling fumes. Nine other deputies drove themselves to the hospital as a precaution, the paper reported.

A spokeswoman for the plant in Crosby, Texas, said late Wednesday that the flooded facility had lost power and backup generators amid Harvey flooding, leaving it without refrigeration for chemicals that become volatile as the temperature rises.

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4:15 a.m.

Beaumont, Texas, has lost its water supply because of Harvey.

Officials there say the city has lost service from its main pump station due to rising waters of the Neches River caused by Harvey.

The pump station is along the river and draws water from it as a main source for the city’s water system.

The officials added in their statement early Thursday that the city has also lost its secondary water source at the Loeb wells in Hardin County. They say there’s no water supply for Beaumont’s water system at this time.

They say they must wait until the water levels from Harvey recede before determining the extent of damage.

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1:20 a.m.

Major dangers for the U.S. Gulf Coast area loomed Wednesday with the threat of major flooding further east near the Texas-Louisiana line and an explosion at a Texas chemical plant as Harvey’s floodwaters began receding in the Houston area after five days of torrential rain.

As the water receded, Houston’s fire department said it would begin a block-by-block search Thursday of thousands of flooded homes. The confirmed death toll climbed to at least 31 on Wednesday, including six family members — four of them children — whose bodies were pulled Wednesday from a van that had been swept off a Houston bridge into a bayou.

Another crisis related to Harvey emerged at a chemical plant about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Houston. A spokeswoman for the Arkema Inc. plant in Crosby, Texas, said late Wednesday that the flooded facility had lost power and backup generators, leaving it without refrigeration for chemicals that become volatile as the temperature rises.

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