Chlorine leak causes massive fire at Louisiana chemical plant

By: Rachael Thomas, WAFB

PLAQUEMINE, La. (WAFB) – A small chlorine leak on the property of DOW Chemical in Plaquemine forced a shelter-in-place for certain residents of Iberville Parish.

The leak was stopped just before 6 p.m. Friday, Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi reported. Around 7 p.m., Sheriff Stassi confirmed the shelter-in-place has been lifted.

Around 7:15 p.m., Sheriff Stassi confirmed that the situation at the site has been contained and there is no detectable smell of chlorine.

DOW Chemical released the following statement around 8 p.m.:

Friday afternoon, Dow’s facility in Plaquemine experienced a power interruption causing a loss of electrical power and steam to the manufacturing site. All employees were accounted for and there were no reported injuries on site. Three Dow employees went to our on-site Health Services and are under observation. We have been informed that 16 contract employees drove themselves to local hospitals, at this time all have been discharged. The chlorine leak reported by Olin Corporation, a third party tenant on site, has been stopped. The community shelter-in-place has been lifted and all lanes on LA 1 are open. Safety on site and in our community is and continues to be our number one priority and we continue to work closely with our local agencies.”

Officials said 16 non-essential employees from the facility drove themselves area hospitals asking to be evaluated. DOW spokesperson Stacey Chiasson said she did not know what medical complaints those people had.

Non-essential employees were evacuated from the plant as soon as the incident started, around 3 p.m. Friday. Chiasson says all other employees at the DOW site have been accounted for and none of them sustained injuries.

The incident happened when the facility lost power, Chiasson said. She said Olin Corporation, a tenant on the DOW site which produces chlorine, experienced a small chlorine leak. Power was restored to the facility around 5:15 p.m.

LA 1 was reopened around 6:30 p.m. River Road was briefly closed, but later reopened.

Stassi says emergency sirens in the area were not activated because no evacuations were ordered. He says phone calls were made using the 911 system to residents who needed to stay indoors.

The DOW plant had a recent increase in flaring due to maintenance for several weeks prior to this incident and officials urged people not to be alarmed by the large flames coming from the flares.

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