Explosion Kills 1, Injures 73 at Williams Plant in Louisiana - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Explosion Kills 1, Injures 73 at Williams Plant in Louisiana

Posted: Updated:
This photo provided by Ryan Meador to the Associated Press shows an explosion at The Williams Companies Inc. plant in the Ascension Parish town of Geismar La., Thursday, June 13, 2013. This photo provided by Ryan Meador to the Associated Press shows an explosion at The Williams Companies Inc. plant in the Ascension Parish town of Geismar La., Thursday, June 13, 2013.

Associated Press

GEISMAR, La. (AP) - One person was killed and dozens were injured in an explosion and fire at a Louisiana chemical plant owned by Tulsa-based Williams Companies.

Louisiana's health department said 73 people were treated at hospitals for injuries ranging from minor to critical following the Thursday morning explosion.

State police Capt. Doug Cain said a body was found by hazardous materials crews going through the aftermath of the blast at the Williams facility.

Cain said all of the plant's more than 300 workers had been accounted for by Thursday afternoon.

The company said the blast happened at 8:37 a.m. at the plant in an industrial area of Geismar, a Mississippi River community about 20 miles southeast of Baton Rouge. The cause was not immediately known.

The FBI said terrorism was not suspected.

A few homes and four other plants are within 2 miles, said Lester Kenyon, spokesman for Ascension Parish government. The Williams facility is one of scores of chemical and industrial facilities that dot the riverside between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

A contract worker, Daniel Cuthbertson, 34, described a scene of "mass hysteria" immediately after the explosion, with workers scrambling over gates to get out of the plant.

"God was with me today because I know when I looked back, I barely made it. I know somebody was hurt. There's no way everybody escaped that," said Cuthbertson, who was interviewed at an emergency staging area about 2 miles from the plant.

State Sen. Troy Brown said the ground shook at his house, several miles from the plant.

"It felt like a three-second earthquake. It was a massive explosion," Brown said.

He drove to a nearby gas station and saw flames 100 to 200 feet high.

"It was scary," he said.

Officials at area hospitals said a handful of patients were in critical or serious condition, though most seemed to have minor injuries.

Early tests did not indicate dangerous levels of any chemicals around the plant after the blast, but Cain said air monitoring continued Thursday afternoon.

Seven fire departments responded, Kenyon said.

Cain said the fire was out, but gas was being flared - burned at the top of high chimneys - in other parts of the plant. "There is still some controlled flaring going on, so people in the area are going to see smoke," he said.

Authorities said the plant makes ethylene and propylene - highly flammable gases that are basic building blocks in the petrochemical industry.

A thick plume of black smoke rose from the plant after the blast. In the early hours after the explosion, at a roadblock several miles away, where family members waited anxiously to hear about loved ones, flames were easily visible above the trees.

  • Top Videos

Most Popular

Stories
Videos
loading...
  • Latest StoriesMore>>

  • Saban: Bama's QB competition continues

    Saban: Bama's QB competition continues

    Monday, September 1 2014 10:26 PM EDT2014-09-02 02:26:09 GMT
    Alabama still has competition for the starting job at quarterback. Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban says both Blake Sims and Jake Coker will play Saturday against Florida Atlantic. He says he hasn't determined how the rotation will work for No. 2 Alabama.More >>
    Alabama still has competition for the starting job at quarterback. Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban says both Blake Sims and Jake Coker will play Saturday against Florida Atlantic. He says he hasn't determined how the rotation will work for No. 2 Alabama.
    More >>
  • City of Clay to defend pit bull ban in court Tuesday

    City of Clay to defend pit bull ban in court Tuesday

    Monday, September 1 2014 7:14 PM EDT2014-09-01 23:14:16 GMT
    The city of Clay will defend its Vicious Dog Ordinance Tuesday morning in court. The city council passed the ordinance last year. It bans pit bulls. Mayor Charles Webster calls it the biggest safety issue in Clay since he's been elected.More >>
    The city of Clay will defend its Vicious Dog Ordinance Tuesday morning in court. The city council passed the ordinance last year. It bans pit bulls. Mayor Charles Webster calls it the biggest safety issue in Clay since he's been elected.
    More >>
  • Friday Night Blitz: Coverage lineup for Week 3

    Friday Night Blitz: Coverage lineup for Week 3

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:32 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:32:55 GMT
    Week 3 Blitz Game of the Week:MOUNTAIN BROOK vs HOOVER (The Met)Blitz Cheer:BESSEMER CITY at BROOKWOODBlitz Brigade:HUEYTOWN at MINOROther Notable Matchups:VESTAVIA HILLS at OAK MOUNTAINNORTHRIDGE at MCADORYHILLCREST at CLAY-CHALKVILLE CENTRAL-CLAY at SHELBY COUNTYDEMOPOLIS at CALERAMUNFORD at LEEDSCHILTON COUNTY at PELL CITYPIEDMONT at ASHVILLEMOODY vs SPRINGVILLEJACKSON-OLIN vs BRIARWOODTHOMPSON at SPAIN PARKHEWITT-TRUSSVILLE at TUSCALOOSA COUNTYCORNER vs FAIRFIELDGREENE COUNTY vs GORDOTHOR...More >>
    Week 3 Blitz Game of the Week:MOUNTAIN BROOK vs HOOVER (The Met)Blitz Cheer:BESSEMER CITY at BROOKWOODBlitz Brigade:HUEYTOWN at MINOROther Notable Matchups:VESTAVIA HILLS at OAK MOUNTAINNORTHRIDGE at MCADORYHILLCREST at CLAY-CHALKVILLE CENTRAL-CLAY at SHELBY COUNTYDEMOPOLIS at CALERAMUNFORD at LEEDSCHILTON COUNTY at PELL CITYPIEDMONT at ASHVILLEMOODY vs SPRINGVILLEJACKSON-OLIN vs BRIARWOODTHOMPSON at SPAIN PARKHEWITT-TRUSSVILLE at TUSCALOOSA COUNTYCORNER vs FAIRFIELDGREENE COUNTY vs GORDOTHOR...More >>
  • Member of biker club speaks about fight before shooting

    Member of biker club speaks about fight before shooting

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:29 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:29:44 GMT

    Police: suspect in fight before shooting into crowd

    More >>

    Police: suspect in fight before shooting into crowd

    More >>
  • Labor Day Moon Pie eating contest

    Labor Day Moon Pie eating contest

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:22 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:22:19 GMT
    Dozens of folks got their ''fill'' of a popular Alabama treat this Labor Day.Tannehill State Park hosted the largest Moon Pie eating contest. All total there were 65 people who signed up. The winner receives a cash prize of $100. But this is about more than money. Park administrator, Stacey Green says, "I thought at times it was about the cash prizes, because the adults will win $100. But we've had so many repeat competitors, that I really think they're more in it for bragging rights. I re...More >>
    Dozens of folks got their ''fill'' of a popular Alabama treat this Labor Day.Tannehill State Park hosted the largest Moon Pie eating contest. All total there were 65 people who signed up. The winner receives a cash prize of $100. But this is about more than money. Park administrator, Stacey Green says, "I thought at times it was about the cash prizes, because the adults will win $100. But we've had so many repeat competitors, that I really think they're more in it for bragging rights. I re...More >>
  • UPDATE: Car belonging to elderly stabbing victim found

    UPDATE: Car belonging to elderly stabbing victim found

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:07 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:07:42 GMT
    Birmingham police say a neighbor found the woman lying on the floor of her house on the 600 block of 39th Street South Sunday evening. They believe she was the victim of a burglary and was stabbed to death.More >>
    Birmingham police say a neighbor found the woman lying on the floor of her house on the 600 block of 39th Street South Sunday evening. They believe she was the victim of a burglary and was stabbed to death.More >>
  • Job growth under microscope this Labor Day

    Job growth under microscope this Labor Day

    Monday, September 1 2014 5:50 PM EDT2014-09-01 21:50:56 GMT
    Keeping a roof overhead and putting food on the table. That's still difficult for many Alabamians on this 130th Labor Day. A just released report by Arise Citizens Policy Project warns Alabamians will continue to feel the effects of the great recession for years to come. Arise is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition that believes low-income people are suffering because of state policy decisions. Bottom line is that Alabama's unemployment rate stands at seven percent. Yet, the stat...More >>
    Keeping a roof overhead and putting food on the table. That's still difficult for many Alabamians on this 130th Labor Day. A just released report by Arise Citizens Policy Project warns Alabamians will continue to feel the effects of the great recession for years to come. Arise is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition that believes low-income people are suffering because of state policy decisions. Bottom line is that Alabama's unemployment rate stands at seven percent. Yet, the stat...More >>
  • Birmingham security talks underway for Magic City Classic, Dalai Lama visit

    Birmingham security talks underway for Magic City Classic, Dalai Lama visit

    Monday, September 1 2014 2:46 PM EDT2014-09-01 18:46:22 GMT
    This year's Magic City Classic week in Birmingham may be a classic one for security. That's because the annual game is happening the same week as the Dalai Lama's multi-day visit to the city, as ABC 33/40More >>
    Security preps.More >>