Web Date: June 13, 2013
One Death, Scores Of Injuries Caused By Explosion At Ethylene Plant
The explosion occurred at 8:37 AM. After the blast, 300 workers were evacuated. Seventy-three people were taken to area hospitals, eight of them via airlift. Ten employees remained in a safe room on the grounds to help shut down the plant. At a press conference, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said every worker has been accounted for.
The explosion was followed by a massive fire, which raged into the afternoon. On the morning of the event, Ascension Parish officials, concerned about subsequent explosions and chemical contaminants in the air, issued a shelter-in-place order for a 2-mile radius around the plant.
Williams owns 84% of the cracker, which has annual capacity to make 1.3 billion lb of ethylene and 90 million lb of propylene. Saudi Basic Industries owns a minority interest in the unit.
A $400 million expansion of the plant, meant to increase ethylene capacity at the site by 800 million lb, is due to be completed later this year.
Although the cause of the blast is still under investigation, chemical plant accidents often occur when equipment is offline for repairs and maintenance.
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