Sasol says explosion happened at low-density polyethylene unit

Updated: Jan. 14, 2020 at 10:31 AM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Sasol officials say Monday’s explosion and fire happened at its LCCP low-density polyethylene (LDPE) unit.

The explosion happened at 1:15 p.m., according to Kim Cusimano, manager of Government & Public Affairs for Sasol’s North American Operations. The fire was extinguished and all employees and contractors were safe and accounted for.

“The new LDPE unit had not yet achieved beneficial operation (BO) as planned for in December 2019,” Cusimano said. “The unit was in the final stages of commissioning and startup when the incident occurred. The unit has been shut down and an investigation is underway to determine the cause of the incident, the extent of the damage and resulting impact on the LDPE unit´s BO schedule."

Cusimano did not give a reason for the explosion but said other units were unaffected.

“All other Lake Charles units and previously commissioned LCCP units, namely the ethane cracker, ethylene glycol/ethylene oxide and linear low-density polyethylene units, are unaffected and operating to plan,” she said. “The ethane cracker has achieved nameplate capacity following the successful replacement of the acetylene reactor catalyst in the plant during December 2019.”

“The remaining three downstream units under construction to complete the integrated LCCP site, Ziegler alcohols and alumina, alcohol ethoxylates and Guerbet alcohols, are also unaffected and remain within cost and schedule as per our previous guidance.”

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