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One dead, scores injured in Louisiana chemical plant explosion

June 13, 2013, 11:23 pm

By Matthew DeLuca, Staff Writer, NBC News

An explosion and fire at a Louisiana chemical plant Thursday morning killed one person and injured 73 more, Gov. Bobby Jindal said.

The explosion took place at Williams Olefins chemical plant in Ascension Parish, between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, state police said. A fire after the explosion was contained and then extinguished, and preliminary tests showed the air was safe.

Chemicals were being burned off, but there was no immediate threat to the public, said Jared Sadifer, a state police spokesman.

The fire, fueled by the petrochemical propylene, burned for more than three hours, though government monitors had yet to detect dangerous levels of emissions, Jindal told a news conference near the scene.

"Once the investigations are done, once there's a responsible party, they will absolutely be held responsible," Jindal said.

The cause of the fire was undetermined, Slaton said. Hazardous-materials crews were checking the site, and a controlled fire was burning off the rest of the chemicals.

The injured were taken to hospitals, and a total of 300 workers were evacuated, Jindal said. Ten people remained in a safe room at the plant, he said.

The man killed was identified Thursday evening as 29-year-old Zachary C. Green of Hammond, Louisiana, according to the state police.

Authorities ordered people within a 2-mile radius to remain in their homes, in part because of the smoke, said Lester Kenyon, a spokesman for Ascension Parish.

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