Chemical plant in Geismar explodes, cause unknown - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Chemical plant in Geismar explodes, cause unknown

Source: Monty McNutt Source: Monty McNutt
Source: WAFB Viewer Source: WAFB Viewer
GEISMAR, LA (WAFB) -

Inspectors from several environmental agencies are trying to determine what caused an explosion at Westlake Chemical along LA 73 in Geismar. A fire broke around 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning. An estimated 300 people were told to stay indoors.

"During the restart of our vinyl chloride monomer plant we had an explosion and fire. There were no injuries and all personnel have been accounted for," Westlake Chemicals Environmental Health and Safety Manager Karen Khonsari said.

At 9:10 a.m., paramedics said there were no reports of injuries. Authorities say "the lines involved in the release are either shut in or in the process of being shut in." There was an evacuation and shelter-in-place ordered for a one mile radius. Highway 73 was closed. 

"We used a system called First Call to do a reverse 911 to notify everybody to shelter in place around the facility," Ascension Parish OEP Director Rick Webre said.

Shelter-in-place means you should stay in your home with the doors and windows closed, along with the air conditioning and heating units turned off. This was lifted just after 11 a.m.

The plant was releasing Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM); Hydrochloric Acid (HCL); Chlorine (CL); and Hydrochloric Acid solution in whole or parts. The Department of Environmental Quality is sending the Mobile Air Monitoring Lab, the DEQ command post and emergency responders to do additional monitoring and oversight.

The EPA's ASPECT plane, which can conduct aerial monitoring, arrived Thursday afternoon. The EPA is providing additional air monitoring equipment to add to DEQ's equipment. An EPA START contractor team was on the site by early afternoon as well as an EPA on Scene coordinator.

DEQ Emergency Response will do continuous monitoring for the duration of the incident and is coordinating with the plant, LA State Police and Ascension Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness.  The DEQ Incident Command Center was set up in the facility parking lot and  Ascension OEP, Sheriff and State Police are on scene with DEQ Emergency responders.

Inspectors are now trying to determine how much gas is left in the damaged plant tower, where it is, and what needs to be done to prevent future accidents. 

Copyright 2012 WAFB. All rights reserved.

SIDEBAR: Westlake Chemical

Westlake Chemical, Geismar facility manufacters: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) resinVinyl Chloride MonimersVinyl ChlorideCaustic More>>

  • More Local NewsNewsMore>>

  • Sales tax break on hurricane items this weekend

    Sales tax break on hurricane items this weekend

    Saturday, May 27 2017 8:32 PM EDT2017-05-28 00:32:46 GMT
    (Source: Maranda Whittington/KPLC)(Source: Maranda Whittington/KPLC)

    Flashlights, tarps, fuel cans, and lanterns. These are just some of the many items Carolyn Trahan sells at Trahan Hardware. With hurricane season approaching, Trahan and her employees like Jeremy Jolviette are usually selling these types of items right before a hurricane. "Everyone is trying to get prepared for it," said Jolviette. The Louisiana Department of Revenue has declared this weekend a hurricane preparedness sales tax holiday. All hurrica...

    More >>

    Flashlights, tarps, fuel cans, and lanterns. These are just some of the many items Carolyn Trahan sells at Trahan Hardware. With hurricane season approaching, Trahan and her employees like Jeremy Jolviette are usually selling these types of items right before a hurricane. "Everyone is trying to get prepared for it," said Jolviette. The Louisiana Department of Revenue has declared this weekend a hurricane preparedness sales tax holiday. All hurrica...

    More >>
  • FIRST ALERT FORECAST: Dry and warm weekend for now, but a wet week ahead

    FIRST ALERT FORECAST: Dry and warm weekend for now, but a wet week ahead

    Saturday, May 27 2017 5:39 PM EDT2017-05-27 21:39:19 GMT
    Rain expected on Memorial DayRain expected on Memorial Day

    Through tonight we will see mostly cloudy skies. No rain is expected despite the cloud coverage. The winds are still blowing out of the south and will continue to blow 5-10 mph overnight. This will keep our temperatures warm. Overnight, we will struggle to get out of the 70s once again. Over the rest of the weekend, we are still not expecting any rain for our Sunday. Although there is a 20% chance for some afternoon showers. We will have mostly cloudy skies when it is not raining.

    More >>

    Through tonight we will see mostly cloudy skies. No rain is expected despite the cloud coverage. The winds are still blowing out of the south and will continue to blow 5-10 mph overnight. This will keep our temperatures warm. Overnight, we will struggle to get out of the 70s once again. Over the rest of the weekend, we are still not expecting any rain for our Sunday. Although there is a 20% chance for some afternoon showers. We will have mostly cloudy skies when it is not raining.

    More >>
  • Lake Charles opens time capsule buried 50 years ago

    Saturday, May 27 2017 3:16 PM EDT2017-05-27 19:16:59 GMT
    (Source: Maranda Whittington/KPLC)(Source: Maranda Whittington/KPLC)

    On Friday Mayor Randy Roach helped pull out history - 50 years worth, to be exact.

    In 1967 a time capsule was buried in front of historic Lake Charles City Hall, and many had different ideas of what could be buried inside. 

    More >>

    On Friday Mayor Randy Roach helped pull out history - 50 years worth, to be exact.

    In 1967 a time capsule was buried in front of historic Lake Charles City Hall, and many had different ideas of what could be buried inside. 

    More >>
Powered by Frankly