Helicopter view of Westlake Chemical Fire
GEISMAR, La. - State officials said it could be a month before they learn the exact cause of Wednesday's fire at Westlake Chemical in Geismar.
The fire started just after 11 a.m. in a cooling storage area on the plant's grounds. A plant official said organic peroxide, an additive used to make PVC, is what burned.
Witnesses reported hearing loud bangs and an explosion before flames and black smoke began shooting up from the burning area. Firefighters put it out in less than an hour, and authorities said there were no injuries.
The Department of Environmental Quality said the company will conduct a joint investigate into fire with OSHA and State Police, and within 30 days send a letter to the state explaining the cause. DEQ said they could receive unlimited extensions to that letter, though.
State Police HazMat will also conduct an investigation into the emergency response to the fire. DEQ will investigate if any chemical release happened, and whether the company's safety plan was up to date and followed correctly.