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Update – Two Men Now Confirmed Dead In Chemical Plant Explosion

Geismar plant fire KATC photo
Geismar plant fire KATC photo

Update: La. State Police say another man has died from Thursday’s chemical plant explosion in Ascension Parish. The man has been identified as 47-year-old Scott Thrower of St. Amant.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit has already been filed by a man working near the Williams Olefin plant fire.  Galen Mitchell works at BASF nearby, and says he was downwind, and exposed to noxious and harmful chemicals.  He complains of throat and sinus irritation, suffering fear and fright, and emotional and mental anguish.

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Update: Of the 77 people taken to area hospitals four of the victims are still being treated for serious burns.   According to Dr. Flip Roberts, Ascension Parish’s chief medical officer, the next few days will be critical  for those patients.

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Update: The man person who died in Thursday’s explosion has been identified as 29-year-old Zachary C. Green of Hammond. La. State Police say his next of kin has been notified by Troopers and a company representative.

The fire has been extinguished. All employees have been accounted for.

Department of Health and Hospitals will be assisting with family reunification at Lamar-Dixon.  There is a hotline that has been set up by the parish to help with family reunification. That number is 866-380-2303.

United Blood Services is taking blood donations as the need for blood, especially O Negative blood types, are needed.

If you are blood type O Negative, you are the universal donor and your blood donation is extremely important during this tragedy. However, all blood types are needed as well.  Donating blood in cities other than Baton Rouge can and will help out with needs, as blood is often transported to where it’s needed most. Go to www.bloodhero.com to make an appointment to donate or call 225-769-7233.

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Update: Gov. Bobby Jindal, who held a press conference near the scene of the explosion and fire, says one person has been confirmed dead and 73 people are now reported injured.

Governor Jindal said, “This was a tragic incident, and our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Geismar and everyone who’s been affected by the explosion. That includes the workers and individuals who were in the plant at the time of the explosion and their families, and we wish those with injuries a safe and speedy recovery. We want to thank the brave work of our first responders who ran toward danger instead of away from it to help evacuate folks.

“We wanted to come down here to survey the scene and meet with local officials and first responders, and the people of Geismar need to know that they have every resource of state government working for them right now.

“We have a lot of folks who are still working within the plant to assess the situation there. There will be further investigations afterward to determine what happened and to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Right now, our focus is on the recovery, the rescue efforts within the plant, and on making sure that folks in the surrounding communities are safe.

“There were over 300 people evacuated from the plant site.  Of the evacuees, eight people were taken by helicopter. At this time, the Department of Health and Hospitals report that 73 people from the plant site have been taken to local hospitals. There are 10 people in a safe room in the plant. This is part of emergency protocol for shutting down the plant.

“At this time, there is unfortunately one confirmed fatality.  Ascension Parish has lifted the shelter-in-place order in a 2-mile radius. There are four additional plants in the area that have shelter-in-place orders, including Honeywell, Univer, Innophos and PCS Nitrogen.”

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Geismar Plant Fire Aerial Shot, Acadian Ambulance
Geismar Plant Fire Aerial Shot, Acadian Ambulance
Geismar Plant Fire Aerial Shot, Acadian Ambulance
Geismar Plant Fire Aerial Shot, Acadian Ambulance

One person has died in an explosion and fire Thursday morning at the Williams Companies Olefins Plant in the town of Geismar in Ascension Parish that has also put at least 30 people in the hospital with at least five of them reportedly in critical condition.

La. State Police and emergency responders have been on the scene. LSP Captain Doug Cain says “there are some people that have been transported to the Burn Unit of Baton Rouge General. I do not know the extent of those injuries.” Jean Kelly, spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental Quality, says 30 victims were taken away by ground ambulances, while three or four victims were taken away by helicopters. Personnel are still trying to account for all 600 people who work in the plant.

Thick plumes of black smoke are rising from the facility, and police have closed roads in the vacinity of LA 74 and LA 30 at La. Highway 3115. Cain says the plant makes highly flammable products, so travel near the sight must be contained. Residents in the Geismar and St. Gabriel areas are being asked to shelter in place. They are being told, once inside, to close all windows and doors. “We are asking the people to stay in their homes until teams have responded,” says Lester Kenyon with the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office.

According to Kelly, no dangerous levels of chemicals have been found in the air so far. Geismar is located about 20 miles southeast of Baton Rouge.

The plant manufactures ethylene (1.3 billion pounds) and polymer grade propylene (90 million pounds), which are basic building blocks in the petrochemical industry.

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