Blast at chemical plant in Louisiana kills 1, injures 73

Screenshot

Screenshot

An explosion and fire killed at least one person and injured 33 at the Williams Olefins chemical plant in Geismar, Louisiana, on Thursday, leading authorities to order people within two miles to remain indoors.

The blast created a huge fireball and column of smoke when it hit at 8:37 a.m. (0937 ET) at the plant along the Mississippi River just south of Baton Rouge and about 60 miles up river from New Orleans.

About 600 people were working at the plant at the time, and the fire was still burning more than three hours later, state police said.

A body was recovered at the explosion scene and a search continued for more possible victims, Louisiana State Police Captain Doug Cain said.

The blast injured 33 people, said Jean Kelly, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. Thirty were taken from the plant by ambulance and three by helicopter, Kelly said.

“Emergency shut-down valves have been closed. The unit is isolated,” parent group Williams Cos. said in a statement. “We are in the process of accounting for all personnel.”

Authorities ordered people within a 2-mile (3-km) radius to remain in their homes, in part because of the toxic smoke, said Lester Kenyon, a spokesman for Ascension Parish. Roads leading to the plant were closed, the company said.

The U.S. Coast Guard said traffic on the Mississippi River remained unaffected.

“It’s an active scene. The fire department, the sheriff’s office and hazmat (hazardous materials) team are responding to the explosion at the Williams Olefins plant,” said Amy Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Ascension Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

The company’s own emergency response crews were assisting at the scene, Williams said.

The plant produces approximately 1.3 billion pounds of ethylene and 90 million pounds of polymer grade propylene, according to the Williams website. These are used in the petrochemical process to make plastics.

“The chemical involved is a flammable, which is good in the sense that it is burning itself off, so there’s no impact outside the fence line of the facility,” Cain said.

Williams operates the plant and holds an 83 percent ownership interest in the Geismar facility, it said.

Shares in Williams Cos. fell as much as 3 percent shortly after the reports and were down about 1 percent in early afternoon trade.

With massive equipment operating under intense pressure and high heat, the petrochemical industry is particularly prone to occasional fires and explosions, most of which are quickly brought under control with limited injury or damage.

Southern Louisiana is home to a large share of the country’s petrochemical facilities and has seen at least two other blasts in the past two years.

Pressure on the industry to improve safety has increased since a blast at the Texas City refinery killed 15 people in 2005, among the worst such industrial accidents in decades.

A blast last month at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, that killed 14 people has also sharpened attention on handling of volatile chemicals.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Dogs are capable of feeling jealousy - U.S.…

By Curtis Skinner(Reuters) - Dogs are a man's best friend, and research released on Wednesday says canines want to keep it that way.Dogs are capable…

Local

G train riders brace for five-week shutdown

G train service will be suspended between Brooklyn and Queens between Friday, July 25, and Tuesday, Sept. 2.

International

Peaches Geldof's death was drugs-related, coroner rules

LONDON (Reuters) - The death of Peaches Geldof, the daughter of musician and Band Aid founder Bob Geldof, was drugs-related, a coroner ruled on Wednesday.The…

Local

Family, supporters gather in Brooklyn for Eric Garner…

Family members gathered on Wednesday for the funeral of Eric Garner, who died shortly after police put him in a banned chokehold as they arrested him.

Going Out

Where to go drinking on National Tequila Day…

Thursday is just close enough to the end of the week to make you envision yourself already sunning on a beach towel or lounging by…

Going Out

Things to do in NYC this week: July…

Performing arts A 70’s Summer Night Friday, 6:30 p.m. The Green Building 452 Union St., Gowanus $35, 347-529-6473 Party like it’s summer in the 1970s…

Going Out

5 must-try dishes at Edible Manhattan's Good Beer

Rooting out the exotic amid the New York City bar scene is noble quest. But if you’d like to have it all come to you,…

Books

Art imitates life (almost) in David Shapiro's new…

David Shapiro talks about his book, "You're Not Much Use To Anyone."

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

MLB

Brandon McCarthy finds his calling on Twitter

Yankees starter Brandon McCarthy joined Twitter three year ago for the same reason many people do: to get news quickly.

Sports

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running…

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running game a boost

Food

Recharge with a post-workout smoothie from Nicky Hilton

Some people can roll out of bed right as their alarm goes off. And that alarm isn’t set for 20 minutes before they have to…

Education

Colleges are increasingly embracing the concept of gender-neutral…

  Northwestern University recently made headlines after announcing that it would be installing two gender-neutral bathrooms in the university's student center. “These are two gender-open…

Career

How to prepare to interview for your dream…

    Congratulations! You landed a job interview at your dream company! A lot of hard work has gone into determining which companies to apply…

Style

The shirtdress is a summer must-have

  We love throwing on our boyfriend’s shirt and a pair of jeans (no matter how much he grumbles that it’s his turn to wear the…