Officials still investigating PPG fire

Officials are still investigating the Monday fire that occurred in the PHH unit at PPG Industries' Lake Charles facility that resulted in at least one injury.

PPG's Patricia Prebula said the unit produces vinyl.

According to PPG's Environmental Health and Safety Manager a fire occurred at 1:17 p.m. Monday in the PHH production unit at PPG.

Operators responded and shut down the unit immediately, officials said. The plant activated its emergency squad.

The fire was extinguished 33 minutes later.

The incident will be investigated by plant officials.

At one point, a black, gray and white plume could be seen for miles and sirens were heard just outside the plant.

On Thursday, PPG released a statement about the company declaring a "force majeure" due to the fire relating to the plant's impact on its customers for vinyl chloride monomer and for all grades of liquid caustic soda on a systemwide basis.

Force majeure is a provision that frees companies from liability when an extraordinary event occurs that could significantly disrupt business.

The company did not provide an end date for the force majeure.

"The plant emergency response team did an excellent job extinguishing the fire quickly, however we must declare force majeure as a result of the damage and shutdown of the vinyl chloride monomer unit and reduced chlor-alkali operating rates," said Michael H. McGarry, PPG executive vice president. "We realize this impacts our customers, and we are working to repair the unit as quickly as possible."

The company added that the expense stemming from the equipment damage and lost sales volume will likely impact PPG's Commodity Chemicals segment earnings by $5 million to $8 million in the fourth quarter 2012, and an incremental $2 million to $5 million in 2013 based on current information.

Copyright 2012 KPLC. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.