Explosion reminds La. that plants not always safe

June 14, 2013 • National News

Williams CEO Alan Armstrong, left, and Williams Olefins Geismar plant manager Larry Bayer pause before answering questions during a news conference on Friday, June 14, 2013 in Gonzales, La. after an explosion at the plant on Thursday. A second victim of an explosion at a Louisiana chemical plant died Friday, while federal authorities opened an investigation to determine the cause of the deadly blast. (AP Photo/The Baton Rouge Advocate, Arthur D. Lauck) (AP Photo/The Advocate, ) MAGS OUT; INTERNET OUT; NO SALES; TV OUT; NO FORNS; LOUISIANA BUSINESS INC. OUT (INCLUDING GREATER BATON ROUGE BUSINESS REPORT, 225, 10/12, INREGISTER, LBI CUSTOM); MANDATORY CREDIT

By some measures, chemical plants like the site of a fatal explosion in Louisiana are among the safest manufacturing workplaces in America. That doesn’t stop residents and emergency responders from keeping wary eyes on the hundreds of facilities stretched along the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Baton Rouge.

Because of the volatile nature of many of the products they make, explosions, chemical releases and other accidents are real threats. Emergency officials say they’re well-drilled to respond but residents do worry about what can happen next door.

“For the most part, day to day, month to month, year to year, you don’t really think about it,” said Ascension Parish Councilman Travis Turner, who lives about 4 miles from the plant in Geismar. “Everybody knows somebody — a brother or cousin or uncle — who works at a plant. When something happened, everybody is worried about the worst case scenario, like yesterday.”

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