Louisiana Chemical Plant Explodes, Suffers Fire

A Geismar, Lousiana chemical plant experienced an explosion at 8:37 A.M, and is currently on fire, according to authorities. Injuries were reported out of the plant, and ambulances were spotted on the scene. Staging areas were set up within safe distances from the plant, and workers were being shuttled to them by bus to receive medical attention.

The Louisiana Emergency Response Network stated that there has been at least 33 injuries associated with the chemical plant explosion. Six burn victims were taken by helicopter to hospitals. There have been no reported fatalities.

At the time of the explosion, the chemical plant had 600 workers on site. The plant is located 20 miles southeast of state capital Baton Rouge.

Residents within a two mile radius of the chemical plant explosion were urged to stay indoors as a precautionary measure. Concerns were mainly focused on smoke inhalation. The smoke is being caused by residual propelyne. Two state highways were also shut down. Water traffic on the Mississippi River was left unaffected by the fire.

Early testing did not indicate that any dangerous chemicals had leaked into the atmosphere.

The Williams Olefin plant is responsible for the production of ethylene and polymer grade propylene. The plant held the means to transport ethane, with 200 miles of pipelines, and a propylene splitter. Fears of exposure are centered on butadiene spheres. The hydrocarbon fire had been in danger of causing an additional explosion, but has been contained.

Shares in the chemical company that owned the plant dropped by 3 percent after news of the explosion. Chemical plants in Louisiana have experienced two prior explosions in the past two years. The Department of Homeland Security was on the scene to assist investigators at the plant, in part because of the high potential for plant explosions along the Mississipi River. The plant’s main concern will be seeing to the health and well-being of its workers.

A video of the explosion from local news station. WWL can be seen here:

We’ll update you on the Geismar Louisiana chemical plant explosion as we get new information.

[top fire photo by Marcus Obal via Wikimedia Commons]