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Plant Explosion Kills 2, Cause Unknown

Monday, June 17, 2013

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A chemical plant explosion killed two people and injured dozens more in Geismar, LA, on Thursday (June 13).

The blast happened at 8:37 a.m Thursday morning in an industrial area of Geismar at a chemical plant that produces ethylene and propylene. About 300 workers were evacuated.

Geismar La explosion
WWL-TV / Twitter

Two people were killed and at least 70 were hospitalized after a chemical plant explosion in Louisiana sent flames hundreds of feet into the air on Thursday (June 13).

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating. Department spokesman Juan Rodriguez said the cause of the blast has not been determined.

2 Dead, Dozens Injured

The Williams Co., who owns the plant, confirmed on Thursday that 29-year-old Zachary Green, died in the explosion. Company officials met with the victim's family at their home, according to a statement on their website.

Green was an operator at the plant who started working at Williams last October.

On Friday afternoon, Louisiana State Police announced that a second person, 47-year-old Scott Thrower, died at the hospital, the Quincy Herald-Whig reported.

Additionally, the company is monitoring the status of one employee and seven contractors who remain hospitalized. After the explosion, media reports indicated over 70 people had been sent to the hospital.

"We are grieving for the loss of Zack who was part of our Williams community. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time of sorrow," said Alan Armstrong, Williams' president and CEO.

"We also remain deeply concerned about Williams' personnel and contractors who sustained injuries, some quite serious," Armstrong said.

Williams sent grief counselors to the area to meet with personnel and offer assistance.

'Massive' Explosion

Tests did not indicate dangerous levels of any chemicals around the plant, Jean Kelly, spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality told the media.

Williams company explosion
Submitted by an employee of Turner Industries

OSHA is investigating the cause of the explosion, which was unknown as of Friday.

"There was fire in excess of 100 to 200 feet in the air," state Sen. Troy Brown, who felt the blast at his house, told the Washington Post.

"It felt like a three-second earthquake. It was a masive explosion," Brown said.

Residents were initially told to stay indoors, but were allowed to leave their homes by noon, a spokesman for the Ascension Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Armstrong, who held a press conference on Friday at noon, said it was unclear when operations at the plant would resume.

About Williams

Williams, headquartered in Tulsa, OK, owns and operates midstream gathering and processing assets, and interstate natural gas pipelines. The company also processes oil sands off-gas and produces olefins for petrochemical feedstocks.

The company's Geismar Plant produces approximately 1.3 billion pounds of ethylene and 90 million pounds of polymer grade propylene annually.

The olefins team in Louisiana is also responsible for the ethane transportation business consisting of 200 miles of pipelines and a refinery-grade propylene splitter.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Explosions; Fatalities; Petrochemical Plants; Pipeline; Polypropylene

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