The chlorine leas in Plaquemine is cleaned up with no damage in or out of the facility.
Olin Corp. has ended its immediate response efforts to a chlorine leak that had forced residents in Plaquemine to shelter in their homes for about three hours Monday night and closed local roads. Company officials said Wednesday morning that their air monitoring has confirmed “there is no risk of onsite or offsite exposure” to chlorine. State regulators had previously said they stopped detecting off-site releases of toxic chlorine gas early Tuesday morning, but crews were still trying to clean up the remaining liquid chlorine left inside Olin’s chlorine unit. A compressor fire triggered the chlorine leak about 8:38 p.m. Monday, officials with the state Department of Environmental Quality said. The fire was extinguished about 10 p.m. Monday; cleanup efforts caused residual air releases.theadvocate.com
Olin now owns the plant and is the responsible party.
Olin is an independent operator inside the 1,500-acre Dow Hydrocarbons complex. Olin took over some of Dow’s units in Plaquemine in 2015 as part of a sale. Tim Beckstrom, DEQ spokesman, said Olin and Dow gave the “all-clear” about 8 a.m. Wednesday and said agency officials were waiting on a briefing from the company about the status of the response. Normally in a gaseous state at outside temperatures, chlorine liquid is extremely cold and vaporizes once it is exposed to air. Emergency crews used water to keep the heavier-than-air gas, which tends to meander along the ground, from spreading out farther from the Dow complex. That response also helped generate a large plume of gas and smoke that nearby residents could see high in the sky. Air monitoring off site didn’t detect chlorine gas above 1 part per million, parish officials have said. At that level, the chemical doesn’t pose the most severe, short-term health risks but can cause asthma attacks and some discomfort.
Olin said the safety of all is paramount as they continues to seek the cause of the fire.
Saying the safety of their employees, neighbors and the environment remains their top priority, Olin again promised Wednesday to learn the reason for the leak. “We are conducting a thorough analysis as we work to identify the cause,” Olin officials said in a statement. With the all-clear given, company officials added they would have access to “affected equipment so that we may safely perform a thorough root cause investigation of the event.” Olin officials did not say when production might resume in the chlorine unit.
There is no estimate of how much of the chlorine gas was released yet.
Company and DEQ officials have not been able to provide an estimate so far of how much chlorine may have been released. Under state rules, the company is required within seven days to submit a type of report to DEQ that typically details early indications of what happened and how much chemical was released in an incident. Reports that more deeply examine what happens in an unanticipated chemical release typically can take months.
Accidents happen and as the plants get older mor occur. THis goes back to the question, how close to such a plant should people live.