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Explosion hits Williams Louisiana olefins plant

06.13.2013  |  HP News

An explosion and subsequent fire rocked the Williams olefins plant on Thursday in Geismar, Louisiana, leading to evacuations, two deaths and numerous injuries. Ambulances and helicopters transported those injured facility to local hospitals and about 300 workers were evacuated from the scene.


By Ben DuBose
Online Editor

An explosion and subsequent fire ripped through the Williams olefins plant on Thursday in Geismar, Louisiana, leaving behind two deaths, about 73 injuries and forcing others in the area to shelter-in-place or evacuate.

The explosion happened at 8:37 a.m. local time and forced local police to shut down roads leading to the plant, Williams spokesman Tom Droege said. Emergency shutdown valves were closed, and resultant fire had been isolated and diminished by 10:30 a.m. local time, the company said. 

Ambulances and helicopters transported those injured facility to local hospitals and about 300 workers were evacuated from the scene after the explosion, said Jean Kelly, spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

Early tests didn't indicate dangerous levels of any chemicals around the plant, Ms. Kelly said. The cause of the explosion remains unknown.

"We are currently focused on the safety and well-being of our employees, contractors and the local community who are responding to the situation," said Mr. Droege.

Eight people were taken to Baton Rouge General Medical Center and more than a dozen others were taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital in nearby Gonzales, officials said. The number of people with "significant injuries" appeared to be less than 10, state police Sgt. J.B. Slaton said.

People within two miles of the Williams plant were initially ordered to stay indoors, but were allowed to leave their homes before noon, according to a spokesman for the Ascension Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness official.

The Geismar plant produces 1.3 billion lb/year of ethylene and 90 million lb/year of polymer-grade propylene, though Williams was in the process of expanding the plant's ethylene capacity. A company spokesperson wasn't immediately available to answer questions about the expansion.  

Geismar is located about 25 miles southeast of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Photo courtesy of a local resident via Twitter.  Additional reporting information from Dow Jones Newswires.

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Michael J Lutz

Tray-Tec, Inc. owners, management and craftsmen send our condolences to the bereaved families and will keep them and the injured in our thoughts and prayers.

Francisco Elicer

All accidents can be prevented, this type of accident doesn't happen we permitted to.
As a swiss cheese, many holes aligned allows this accident to occur.
Sorry for people injured and workers at the plant

Hirak Dutta

Sad day once again for the people of Louisiana. One death & 73 injury is a big loss -those who work in HC sector must remain 24X7 alert.
Would like to know the RCA.

Umesh Goel

My deepest condolences to the bereaved family and to those injured in this unfortunate incident. As a professional in the process safety and loss prevention domain, this type of incident comes as an eye opener, the task is cut out! we have to make our process and hazard review studies more and more robust, take time to meticulously identify hazards and provide more than adequate protection.Cutting corners on the pretext of meeting tight deadlines is just Not an option,
Umesh Goel

virendra kumar kapoor

It appeared to be a big and painful dangerous explosion and fire. Our sympathies to everyone affected by the incident.

sankar prosad mitra

Such incidents are unfortunate.Loss of human life and property is regrettable. I pray for speedy recovery of the injured people.I hope the reason will be found out and lession learnt to avoid future recurrence.

Adriaan Venter

Dear All,
My sincere sympathy with the families of the deceased and injured; also to the management Of the Geismar Plant. This again is a lagging indicator pointing to Underlying Causes, etc. Was this incident foreseen in risk assessment studies? was this plant of at least the identified critical parts / equipment on a rigorous preventive maintenance program; was this plant properly maintained during the yearly Best Practice shutdown for ROBUST maintenance?; are all process, maintenance,Supervisors and Management personnel appropriately and adequately experienced and specific Job / Task trained. I have to admit that I've also learned the hard and cruel way. Lessons Learnt must be applied rigorously without mercy. God Bless, Kind regards, Adriaan Venter

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