1 killed, 73 injured in La. chemical plant explosion


by WWLTV.com and Associated Press


Posted on June 13, 2013 at 3:25 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 13 at 5:23 PM

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.

Trooper Jared Sandifer says the body of 29-year-old Zachary C. Green, of Hammond, was found in the plant after the fire.

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 eight patients, including one in critical condition, two in serious, two in fair and three in good condition. The hospital reported that five of the patients had sustained burns.

"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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