Chemical fire in Port Allen injures one, forces evacuations

POSTED: Monday, May 21, 2012 - 5:35pm

UPDATED: Monday, May 21, 2012 - 10:33pm

An explosion at the Air Liquide plant on the 7000 block of Highway 190-W in Port Allen has left one person battling burns after that explosion led to a massive fire. Authorities believe it could have been sparked by a mechanical error.

“(We have) no confirmation, but it may have been caused by a faulty valve on a vessel,” stated Richie Johnson with the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office.

The explosion caused the release of the gas acetylene. The Department of Environmental Quality and several law enforcement agencies immediately evacuated everyone within a mile radius of the explosion. They're afraid the danger might not be over.

“The only danger at this point is of a secondary explosion from the two vessels that are not exploded at this point,” said Johnson.

Authorities were also quick to shut off traffic in both directions at the intersection of Highways 190 & 983. While they know it's a major inconvenience to drivers, they won’t do that until they know everyone is safe.

“We do understand that this is an inconvenience. Crews are working very hard to reopen the roadway”, said Stephen Hammons with the Louisiana State Police. “However, public safety is our number one concern. We're going to keep it closed as long as public safety is a concern.”

NBC33 first broke this story with reactions from nearby workers. For a look at those reactions, click here.


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