This I did not know, but I am not at all surprised.
A petrochemical plant in Geismar, Louisiana that exploded on Thursday, killing one person and injuring 73, has not been inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the past two decades, according to an analysis by ThinkProgress. The Williams Olefins plant, which produces about 1.3 billion pounds of ethylene and 90 million pounds of polymer grade propylene, according to the company’s website, does not have any recorded inspections for plants producing either substance in OSHA’s database since 1993.Petrochemical plants line the Mississippi River in Louisiana. Due to budget constraints, OSHA inspections occur less and less frequently, thus allowing corporations to self-regulate for the greater part of the time. The cause of the explosion is not yet known, so we'll have to wait for the results of the investigation to know whether Williams Olefins followed safety regulations in its operation of the plant.
The same plant also had an accident in 2009, according to Reuters. At that time, 60 pounds of flammable mixture was released, causing a fire that did not lead to injuries. Louisiana has experienced at least two other explosions in petrochemical facilities in the last two years: an explosion at the Westlake Chemicals vinyl plant in Geismar that “sent a cloud of toxic vinyl chloride and hydrochloric acid over the town” in 2012 and another at a Multi-Chem Group plan in New Iberia in 2011. Neither resulted in injuries, Reuters reports.
H/T to Charles Pierce at Esquire.
UPDATE FROM THE ADVOCATE:
A second worker critically injured in Thursday’s explosion at the Williams Olefins chemical plant in Ascension Parish died Friday afternoon as the Tulsa, Okla., company regained control of its shattered Louisiana facility from state emergency officials and while federal regulators looked into the still-unknown cause of the deadly fire.The final count of the number of injured is not yet known.
Scott Thrower, 47, of St. Amant, Williams supervisor of operations and a company employee since April 1999, succumbed to his injuries at Baton Rouge General Medical Center’s burn unit.
UPDATE 2: OSHA is now on the scene.