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Fines for explosion

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GEISMAR - Eighteen months after a chemical plant exploded it was fined $194,000 by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality for violations spanning six years.

The agency found Williams Olefins violated codes and regulations 29 times. The plant was fined more than all of the plants in the Greater Baton Rouge area.

Williams Olefins has paid in full as the company plans to restart its operations in Ascension Parish.

"They want to get back up and running and they want to get this issue behind them and start fresh," Gregory Langley, with the DEQ, said.

The Williams Olefins explosion off Highway 30 in Geismar killed two workers and injured nearly 100.

"Safety and the protection of our employees, contractors and communities in which Williams does business is, and always has been, the company's number one priority," a plant spokesperson told said in a statement. "Williams cooperated in a full and transparent manner to support the LDEQ review process, including meeting all self-reporting requirements that are a part of LDEQ regulations."

Randy Madere lives within a mile of the plant and believes Williams got off easy.

"I think they should fine them more than what they are. They make millions of dollars a day. These plants make millions of dollars a day. But when an explosion comes and somebody loses their life, they want to do this this and this, and I don't think it's fair."

The plant is scheduled to finish its expansion and start producing again by the end of the year.

The expansion increases ethylene production by 600 million pounds per year to an estimated total of 1.95 billion pounds per year when production begins.


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