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An explosion at a petrochemical plant that manufactures highly flammable gases shook up a community after inuring scores of people, and killing at least one.
CBS News reported June 13 a massive explosion tore through the Williams Geismar Olefins chemical plant, owned by The Williams Companies Inc. and located along an industrial stretch of the Mississippi River known a Geismar, La., at 8:37 a.m.
According to Louisiana health department officials, more than 73 people were hospitalized due to a range of injuries. Doug Cain, captain of the state police, said that Zachary Green, a 29-year-old resident of Hammond, was found dead on the scene by HAZMAT crews scouring the site of the explosion.
The local community felt the explosion miles away
State Sen. Troy Brown, who lives just miles from the plant, told CBS News the explosion felt like a quick earthquake. When he drove to a nearby gas station to investigate further, he said he saw flames shooting as high as 200 feet in the sky.
"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," said Gov.Bobby Jindal. "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."
The Los Angeles Times reported that the number of people working at the plant at the time of the explosion was unclear, although Jean Kelly, spokesperson for the state's department of environmental quality, said 300 workers were evacuated. The plant makes 90 million pounds of propylene and 1.3 billion pounds of ethylene annually. It is unclear if the plant employed a toxic gas detector as part of its fire alarm system.
"We are currently focused on the safety and well-being of our employees, contractors and the local community who are responding to the situation," the Williams company said, according to a statement. "Our emergency-response crews are thoroughly trained to respond to these types of incidents and are diligently performing their work with their first priority being the safety and well-being of people in and around the area."