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Louisiana chemical plant explodes

Residents within two miles of plant ordered to stay indoors

June 13, 2013

A chemical plant exploded and caught fire in Geismar, Louisiana Thursday morning causing multiple injuries.

The explosion took place at Williams Chemical Plant in Ascension Parish, Louisiana State Police said, and a fire after the explosion appeared to be contained in the plant.

The plant is located in Geismar, La., about 60 miles northwest of New Orleans and 20 miles southeast of Baton Rouge. The area was described by officials as unincorporated and largely industrial.

There are no confirmed fatalities, however, at least 33 people have been injured Authorities have ordered people within two miles to remain indoors. There are no confirmed fatalities and no official count on the injured, said Jared Sadifer, a state police spokesman.

The fire was still burning near midday Thursday but had been “greatly diminished” through the work of emergency crews at the plant and firefighters, the plant’s owner, The Williams Cos., said in a statement.

The site of the explosion remains an “active scene,” Lester Kenyon, a public information officer for Ascension Parish, told NBC News. He said the parish’s emergency operations center is in “partial activation” as personnel from local police and fire departments, Homeland Security, and the Ascension Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness are on scene.

According to the company website, the plant produces approximately 1.3 billion pounds of ethylene and 90 million pounds of polymer-grade propylene each year.

Gov. Bobby Jindal said on Twitter that he would travel to the plant site to meet with first responders.

Southern Louisiana is home to a large share of the country’s petrochemical facilities and has seen at least two other blasts in the past two years.

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