Dow issues update, says facility is secure
PLAQUEMINE - The DOW's facility in Plaquemine is now secure, according to a statement released by DOW Saturday, Dec. 3.
The full statement reads:
"Dow’s facility in Plaquemine is secure after a power interruption Friday afternoon. Utilities and steam continue to come online at this time. Employees are on site working to safely clear equipment and restart production. Dow continues to work closely with our local, state and regulatory agencies to ensure safety for everyone."
DOW was evacuated shortly after 3 p.m. due to a chlorine leak at the plant, WBRZ learned Friday.
Sources said there was a chlorine leak at the facility and workers were being sent away from the facility.
Louisiana State Fire Marshal Butch Browning said that the fire department and the Iberville Sheriff's Office are at the scene working to keep the leak on site and contained. Browning said that fire marshal deputies and Louisiana State Police HAZMAT troopers are en route are also assisting on the scene.
Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi said that the leak was caused due to a "total loss of power" to the facility, causing systems in the facility to shut down. Stassi also said that the heavy black smoke that is seen coming from the facility is not the chlorine, rather it is hydrocarbon being burned.
Stassi urged residents north of the Plaquemine bridge to shelter in place indoors and stay off the roads until further notice. He also said to turn off their air conditioners and heaters. The sheriff said that sirens were not sounded because residents did not need to evacuate the area.
Iberville Parish Office of Emergecny Preparedness confirmed the shelter-in-place order had been lifted shortly after 7 p.m. LA 1 was closed in both directions until just before 7 p.m.
DOW issued a second statement shortly after 10 p.m. updating the condition of three employees who were threated on-site by Health Services. It is below:
"Dow's facility in Plaquemine is in the process of restoring power and steam to the site after experiencing a power interruption Friday afternoon. All employees have been accounted for and there were no reported injuries on site. The 3 Dow employees who were observed at Dow's on-site Health Services have been released. The chlorine leak reported by Olin Corporation, a third party tenant on site, has been stoped at this time. Safety is our number one priority and we continue to work closely with our local and state agencies."
Bart Morgan, Iberville Parish Councilman, told WBRZ that Dow Chemical did not inform officials to sound the emergency alarms to alert residents of the incident until about an hour and a half later.
Video from WBRZ's tower cam nearly 700 feet over Old South Baton Rouge showed a large plume of smoke from the area around DOW southwest of Baton Rouge on the other side of the river.
Dow Chemical is a 1,500-acre plant and one of the largest petrochemical facilities in the state.
WBRZ has a crew headed to the scene. Check this story for updates and watch WBRZ News 2 for a live report.