Future uncertain for Williams Olefins plant after deadly explosi - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Future uncertain for Williams Olefins plant after deadly explosion

GEISMAR, LA (WAFB) -

Williams Olefins administrators confirmed at a news conference on Friday the fiery blast happened in a section of the plant where a major expansion was underway. They said it is still unclear what caused the fire or the extent of the damage.

A small flare burned over Williams Olefins Friday afternoon. It was a calm and quiet scene below; a different picture from the stark reality that unfolded there Thursday morning.

"The priority concern for the plant and first responders was to be sure we could get everybody out. It was no small task with 839 people there all on foot," Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley said.

Wiley recounted the critical moments following the blast that sent plant workers running for their lives and put the nearby community on edge. Dozens of people were rushed to area hospitals while relatives and friends waited on word.

Williams Olefins CEO Alan Armstrong was still shocked by the tragedy.

"This is a terrible and unprecedented tragedy and extremely difficult time for all of us," Armstrong said.

Plant manager Larry Bayer confirmed the fire was extinguished by 2 p.m. Thursday. Investigators returned to the site on Friday to assess the situation and look for a cause.  "We were in the process of conducting a very large plant expansion project. The plant had a lot of personnel working at the plant during the time of the incident," said Bayer.

"Williams' teams are working in twelve hour shifts and have remained in the facility control room to make sure everything is safely shut down and monitored," Bayer said.

Bayer said a crew of 25 workers makes up that team. The hundreds of other workers, however, were told to stay home until further notice.

"At this point we have absolutely no idea what it's going to take to bring the plant back up," Bayer said.

It was more tough news for a parish supported by a competitive chemical corridor.

"We love the petro chemical industry and we love the engine and the economics with the jobs and the quality of life it provides for us. Sadly on occasion we get reminded of the fact that things can happen," Wiley said.

Plant administrators said all workers will be paid while the plant is closed.

Copyright 2013 WAFB. All rights reserved.

  • More Local NewsNewsMore>>

  • Hometown Hero - Edward Wilcox

    Sunday, July 23 2017 11:42 AM EDT2017-07-23 15:42:03 GMT
    Ed WilcoxEd Wilcox

    A DeQuincy businessman has the distinction of being one of the first National Guard members to represent his town. It had been five years since World War II and Ed Wilcox found himself serving his country in the National Guard. Wilcox was too young to serve in the war, but felt the guard could keep him trained.

    More >>

    A DeQuincy businessman has the distinction of being one of the first National Guard members to represent his town. It had been five years since World War II and Ed Wilcox found himself serving his country in the National Guard. Wilcox was too young to serve in the war, but felt the guard could keep him trained.

    More >>
  • UPDATE: Suspects in Broad Street homicide arrested

    UPDATE: Suspects in Broad Street homicide arrested

    Sunday, July 23 2017 10:54 AM EDT2017-07-23 14:54:38 GMT
    Johnnie Paul Hardman Jr. (Source: Lake Charles Police Department)Johnnie Paul Hardman Jr. (Source: Lake Charles Police Department)

    Three suspects in a homicide at an RV park on Broad Street Saturday morning have been arrested, according to the Lake Charles Police Department. LCPD responded to a 911 call in reference to an armed robbery and shooting at the Twelve Palms RV Park around 6 a.m. Saturday, July 22. 

    More >>

    Three suspects in a homicide at an RV park on Broad Street Saturday morning have been arrested, according to the Lake Charles Police Department. LCPD responded to a 911 call in reference to an armed robbery and shooting at the Twelve Palms RV Park around 6 a.m. Saturday, July 22. 

    More >>
  • LCPD holds recruitment day to hire 17 more officers

    LCPD holds recruitment day to hire 17 more officers

    Saturday, July 22 2017 9:48 PM EDT2017-07-23 01:48:50 GMT

    Dozens of law enforcement applicants poured into the Lake Charles Civic Center Saturday morning to see if they have what it takes to become a Lake Charles Police Officer. Applicants who turned out Saturday endured a number of health and psychological screenings. 

    More >>

    Dozens of law enforcement applicants poured into the Lake Charles Civic Center Saturday morning to see if they have what it takes to become a Lake Charles Police Officer. Applicants who turned out Saturday endured a number of health and psychological screenings. 

    More >>
Powered by Frankly