No Injuries in LA Chemical Plant Fire

Tuesday, December 24, 2013 @ 01:12 PM gHale

Everything appears fine now after a fire Friday afternoon at the Axiall chemical plant in Westlake, LA.

The Axiall Corp. said the fire began at 1:40 p.m. “in the vinyl chloride manufacturing area” of the plant.

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The fire was out by 2:38 p.m. and Axiall said no plant personnel suffered an injury. Smoke covered the area for an hour and at least 12 drivers ended up treated at a local hospital after complaining of respiratory problems.

“(Our) investigation into the cause of the fire is continuing, and we are coordinating with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and other authorities,” Axiall officials said.

A shelter-in-place, covering all of Westlake and parts of Sulphur and Moss Bluff, was issued a little after 2 p.m. but lifted less than an hour later, by 2:52 p.m. Interstate 10, U.S. 90 and Old Spanish Trail ended up closed during the incident and all roads reopened by 2:55 p.m. Traffic remained heavy in the area until 5 p.m.

The shelter-in-place order included Western Heights Elementary, Westwood Elementary, S.P. Arnett Elementary, Westlake High School and Maplewood Middle. Officials released students at 3:15 p.m.

DEQ Supervisor Scott Wilkinson said they did air monitoring during the fire and all resources indicated “non-detection.” Wilkinson said an official report could take weeks.

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