1 dead, 30 hospitalized in Louisiana plant explosion

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by WWL-TV

KING5.com

Posted on June 13, 2013 at 10:48 AM

Updated Thursday, Jun 13 at 2:06 PM

The Basics:

  • An explosion at the Williams Geismar olefines chemical plant in Geismar, Louisiana,Thursday morning left at least one person dead and 73 injured.
  • As many as 600 workers were in the plant at the time of the explosion; Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal says they believe every worker has been accounted for.
  • By early afternoon, the fire from the explosion was extinguished and hazardous materials crews were at the scene.

GEISMAR, La. -- One person was killed and 73 injured in a mid-morning explosion that rocked the Williams Geismar olefines chemical plant Thursday, officials said.

Most of those injured were taken to local hospitals by ambulance, though three were airlifted, the Department of Environmental Quality said. Baton Rouge General Hospital, meanwhile, reported taking in 14 patients and released seven of them after treatment.

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The hospital reported that some will return for outpatient burn care. Five of the patients had sustained burns, including one in critical condition, one in serious, two in fair and one in good condition. Two patients are being assessed, the hospital reports.

"We believe that every worker has been accounted for," Gov. Bobby Jindal said during an afternoon press conference.

There were as many as 600 workers in the plant at the time of the explosion, State Police Capt. Doug Cain said.

The explosion was reported to police around 8:30 a.m., and as of 10:50 a.m. officials believed the fire was contained and the situation was stable, WAFB reported. Louisiana State Police said there was still a threat of a secondary explosion.

By 1 p.m., State Police said the fire from the explosion had been extinguished and was under control by a hazardous materials crew sent to the scene.

The company sent out  a news release saying the emergency shut-down valves were closed and the unit is isolated..

The release from the stack is reported to be residual propelyne, which is generating the smoke, according to the DEQ.

Parts of Louisiana highways 74, 30 and 3115 are still closed, troopers said.

Residents in St. Gabriel are asked to shelter in place from LA 3115 to LA 74 as a precaution.

Family members or employer personnel seeking information about potential victims can call 1-866-380-2303 or (225) 387-7767.

Williams Geismar annually produces approximately 1.3 billion pounds of ethylene and 90 million pounds of polymer grade propylene, according to the company’s website.

Products from the facility are responsible for the ethane transportation business consisting of approximately 200 miles of pipelines, as well as a refinery-grade propylene splitter. The ethylene is used in the production of plastics.

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