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Several injured in chemical plant explosion near Baton Rouge

Fires and explosions are far too common at chemical plants in Texas and Louisiana. It seems like each week there is another devastating explosion to report. Today, Houston news agencies are reporting that several workers were injured when an explosion and fire occurred early this morning at a chemical plant southeast of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

According to the latest reports, officials have said that a fire broke out at the Williams Olefins plant on LA 3115 sometime around 9 a.m. today. Video recordings show a huge fireball and cloud of smoke rising from the plant, which produces large amounts of flammable gases used in industrial chemicals and plastic products.

Safety officials have told nearby residents to seek shelter in their homes and keep their doors and windows closed. The Iberville Office of Emergency Preparedness has already reported multiple injuries, including six burn victims who were taken to nearby hospitals in helicopters. As of 10:45 a.m., firefighters were still working to put out the flames at the plant.

The plant is said to provide products to customers in the petrochemical industry and produces 1.3 billion pounds of ethylene and 90 million pounds of polymer grade propylene, both flammable gases. The company also transports the hazardous chemical ethane in about 200 miles of pipelines.

This incident seems eerily similar to the deadly West, Texas, fertilizer fire and explosion that took place in April. These tragic accidents make it entirely clear how dangerous chemical plants can be to workers and residents of the surroundings areas. For this reason, it's essential that companies abide by the strictest safety standards, and those who don't should face serious consequences.

Source: KHOU.com, "Multiple workers burned in plant explosion southeast of Baton Rouge," June 13, 2013

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