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Normalcy returning after Plaquemine plant blast; investigation begins

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IBERVILLE PARISH - From the outside, operations at the Dow Louisiana chemical plant in Plaquemine appeared normal on Saturday, less than one day after a series of explosions rocked the facility.

But the investigation into the cause and an assessment of the damage is just getting started.

Most of the sprawling complex was online by Saturday morning, though the immediate area of the Friday night accident was not.

Iberville Parish Emergency Management Director Clint Moore told WBRZ News 2 that Dow has been helpful and communicative with local leaders and that investigators were on scene.

"LDEQ has been out there since last night and still had a representative out there this morning. I'm sure they will do a report, get all the readings together and do their own investigative reports to see what happened," he told WBRZ's Alexis Marigny. "Any time you're dealing with chemicals in these facilities, it's always good to have your guard up."

Moore restated previous claims that the chemicals released Friday night did not pose a health hazard to the community.

WATCH: Plant blast captured from multiple angles

A late morning update posted to the Dow Louisiana Facebook page offered little new information. It reads, in full:

At approximately 9:15 p.m. central time, on Friday, July 14, there was a fire at Dow's Louisiana Operations in Plaquemine, Louisiana. The incident occurred in Dow's Glycol 2 Unit.  All employees are safe and accounted for.
 
Out of an abundance of caution, Iberville Parish declared a shelter in place ½ mile on the south side of the site. The shelter in place was lifted at 3:42 a.m. Highway LA 1 reopened at 8:45 a.m.
 
Crews have substantially reduced the fire and are working to fully extinguish it.  Dow, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and a third-party company conducted air monitoring throughout the night and did not detect any community impact. Air monitoring is ongoing.
 
Dow is committed to high operational and safety practices that consistently meet or exceed regulations and applicable laws. Dow and local officials will conduct a full review to understand the cause of this incident.
 
Dow extends its thanks to the local and state authorities for their assistance.

Officials have not provided a representative for media interviews.

WBRZ has also contacted the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, seeking additional information on the incident.

PREVIOUSLY: New statement from Dow about massive explosion at plant in Plaquemine Friday night

Recent accidents at that same location include an April 2022 chlorine gas leak from the Olin plant within the complex that sent 23 people to the hospital.

A compressor explosion led to that chemical release. Months after it happened, new information called into question the way that accident was handled.

In 2019, a rupture in a Dow vessel sent another chemical plume into the air. No injuries were reported.

Dow Louisiana operates four petrochemical plants in the state. Only the Plaquemine complex is in the Baton Rouge metro area.

The company is the single largest employer in Iberville Parish. About 3,000 jobs are directly tied to the plant.

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