Second LA Plant Blast Claims One

TUESDAY, JUNE 18, 2013

Just miles apart, two chemical plant explosions within two days in Louisiana claimed the lives of three people and sent well over 70 others to the hospital.

Ronald "Rocky" Morris Jr., 55, was killed in the blast on Friday at the chemical plant in Donaldsonville, LA. He had worked at the plant for 34 years.

The day before, an explosion at a plant in Geismar, LA, killed two people and sent more than 70 others to area hospitals.

The two plants were located only 10 miles apart. The cause of either explosion has not been officially confirmed.

Second Blast in Two Days

The Donaldson blast happened around 6 p.m local time after a nitrogen vessel ruptured in an area of the plant that was shut down for maintenance, the plant's owner, CF Industries Holding Inc., confirmed in a statement.

CF Industries confirmed that four employees and three contractors were at the facility, which manufactures ammonia and other nitrogen fertilizers. As of Saturday (June 15), all but one employee had been treated and released.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected and their families," said Lou Frey, VP and general manager of the Donaldsonville Nitrogen Complex.

"Our focus in on our number one priority—the health and safety of our employees and the community. We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our employees."

According to the company, there was no fire or chemical release and no hazards were posed to the community.

"Workers were filling some type of vessel using nitrogen. It was overpressurized, causing it to rupture, causing the injuries an fatality," Louisiana State Police trooper Jared Sandifer told Reuters.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will investigate once the site is deemed safe. The state police's hazardous materials unit was at the plant overnight Friday, Sandifer said, according to The Huffington Post.

During a press conference Friday night, Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmondson said the explosion was a "catastrophic failure" of a mainfold used to distribute gas to the facility and that authorities are investigating if the explosion was caused by overpressurization or another cause.

First Explosion

The explosion at the Williams Co.'s Geismar plant happened at 8:37 a.m. last Thursday (June 13). Zachary Green, 29, and Scott Thrower, 47, were killed.

Geismar plant explosion
WWL-TV / Twitter

The Chemical Safety Board has deployed investigators to the scene of the Geismar plant explosion. The official causes of both explosions have not been determined yet.

OSHA and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board are investigating and the cause has not yet been determined. An investigative team from the CSB was deployed and expected to arrive in Geismar over the weekend, according to a statement from the CSB.

A team of employees have returned to the unaffected area of the plant to further decommission the facility. The extent of the damage is currently unknown, the Williams Co. said in an update on Monday (June 17).

About the Companies

CF Industries, headquartered in Deerfield, IL, is a manufacturer and distributor of nitrogen and phosphate products, serving both agricultural and industrial customers.

The company operates nitrogen manufacturing facilities in the central U.S. and Canda; conducts phosphate mining and manufacturing in Florida; and distributes plant nutrients through a system of transportation equipment primarily in the Midwestern U.S.

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; Health & Safety; OSHA; Petrochemical Plants; Pipeline; Polypropylene; U.S. Chemical Safety Board

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