Unusual ground flare visible for miles, officials say no concern
GEISMAR - A short drop in voltage - called a power dip - at a chemical plant Tuesday night caused an enormous glow in the night's sky.
Numerous people expressed concern about the sporadic orange glow that seemed to almost breathe; starting at nothing, growing to a towering inferno illuminating the sky, then back down to darkness before growing to its vibrancy again. But, area agencies said the situation was more a phenomenon than emergency.
Rick Webre, with the Ascension Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness said the sensation was a ground flare and seemed like a larger issue because of the electrical malfunction which forced it to grow. Webre said he knew the flare was obvious, but said there was no emergency.
"An electrical issue caused the flare to run hotter and burn brighter than normal," Webre said.
The flare was obvious for miles. The glow was recorded by a camera attached to a tower above the WBRZ studios in Old South Baton Rouge, about 20 miles from the plant where the flare was burning.
Williams Olefins, the plant off Highway 30 where the flare was happening, said the flare was about two acres large. It could burn until midnight, or later.
The EPA describes flaring as "a high-temperature oxidation process used to burn combustible components, mostly hydrocarbons, of waste gases from industrial operations."
"Ground flares vary in complexity, and they may consist either of conventional flare burners discharging horizontally with no enclosures or of multiple burners in refractory-lined steel enclosures."
More can be found on the situation HERE.
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