UpdateSecond person dies from US Williams olefins plant blast

14 June 2013 21:26  [Source: ICIS news]

US Williams Louisiana cracker experiences explosionHOUSTON (ICIS)--A second victim has died from injuries sustained during Thursday’s explosion and fire at Williams’ ethane cracker in Geismar, Louisiana, a law enforcement officer said on Friday.

Scott Thrower, 47, of St Amant died around midday at Baton Rouge General Hospital’s burn centre, said Captain Doug Cain of the Louisiana State Police.

“He was a victim that we had been concerned about throughout the night,” Cain said. “Yesterday, we were informed he had received some significant injuries. Unfortunately, he lost the battle midday today.”

Williams said Thrower was supervisor of operations at the plant and had joined the company in April 1999.

“The Geismar tragedy has brought more heartbreaking news. I’m saddened to confirm the passing of a second Williams employee,” said Alan Armstrong, CEO of Williams. “Our deepest sympathies are with Scott’s wife, his family and friends.”

The company said it is closely monitoring the status of the one employee and four contract workers who remain hospitalised.

The incident has killed one other person, 29-year-old Zachary Green of Hammond, a plant operator who had been employed since October. At least 76 others were injured.

Chemicals that caught on fire were propylene and propane, said plant manager Larry Bayer.

Williams officials said on Friday that the cracker remains offline, and it is unknown the extent of damage or when the plant would return to operation.

Government agencies, including the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), are responding to the incident.

The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) said it is still assessing the situation and plans to make a decision on whether to get involved by day’s end.

On Friday, a man who was working at a nearby BASF plant when the blast occurred filed a lawsuit in 23rd Judicial District Court in Ascension Parish, claiming Williams was negligent in the accident.

Galen Mitchell claims in the lawsuit to have suffered throat burns and sinus problems from breathing in fumes from the blast and fire. Court documents state that he was on a scaffold when the explosion occurred.

Mitchell is asking that the lawsuit be certified as class action.

The Geismar facility annually produces about 1.3bn lb of ethylene and 90m lb of polymer-grade propylene (PGP), according to the company’s website. 

The plant had been in the middle of a turnaround as it expands its ethylene capacity to 885,000 tonnes/year from 613,000 tonnes/year, officials said. 

Additional reporting by Jeremy Pafford

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By: Tracy Dang
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