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Environment| Environment

Environment| Environment

A section of a chemical plant west-of Lake Charles exploded Wednesday morning, injuring six people and forcing schoolchildren to temporarily shelter from toxic gases.

A company spokesperson said that chemical fumes ignited in a Westlake Chemical storage tank just before 11 a.m. The large plume visible as smoke could be seen for miles.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the tank had a capacity for about 1,000,000 gallons and contained ethylene dichloride. This chemical can cause breathing problems, heart problems, nausea, vomiting, and damage to the liver, liver, and nervous system.

A spokesperson for Department of Environmental Quality said that the tank was nearly empty at the time it exploded. The DEQ spokesperson said that air quality levels at nearby facilities were stable immediately after the explosion.

Five of the injured workers were transported to nearby hospitals. One worker was treated immediately. A company spokesperson said that although the injuries of the workers were not immediately known, they did not appear to be life-threatening.

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The evacuation of the facility was ordered. No residents were evacuated. Within one hour of the explosion, advisories for school shelter-in place were lifted.

The explosion is the Second at Westlake Chemical in five months. Six people were hurt in an explosion late September. The facility was closed for maintenance. According to the company and authorities, no evacuations were necessary.

WestlakeHouston-based manufacturer for petrochemicals as well as polymers and building products.

The facility is about a mile away from a chlorine plant which burned for three days in 2020 after it was damaged by Hurricane Laura. The BioLab plant released toxic chemicals gas over Westlake, Lake Charles and Moss Bluff before it was destroyed.

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There were no reports of any injuries or illnesses caused by the gas or fire. A large part of the area was evacuated prior to the hurricane.

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This work is supported by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation, administered by the Society of Environmental Journalists.

Tristan Baurick:; on Twitter: @tristanbaurick.

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