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Plaquemine: Shelter in place after chlorine spill in Dow chemical plant

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PLAQUEMINE - Over two hours after a fire caused a chemical leak at a Dow Chemical facility and stirred panic in Iberville Parish late Monday, emergency crews determined the situation was under control.

The shelter-in-place order was lifted just after midnight, and officials said they were able to give the "all clear." 

Earlier Monday, a fire caused a chlorine leak at the Olin facility inside Dow.  The fire, and what appeared to be a rupture of chlorine equipment, caused a huge cloud that prompted the shelter order for Plaquemine.  

Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi said the leak started around 8:40 p.m. following a fire in the chlorine plant at the Olin facility. 

"We had a fire and chlorine leak at the Olin chemical facility, which is on the Dow site," Sheriff Stassi said Monday night. "Even though there's a reading of chlorine, it's not a very high number reading. It is still leaking some chlorine, but the wind speed is helping us."

The fire burned until late Monday. Nearby residents were told to stay inside their homes until just after midnight as a precaution.

By early Tuesday morning, air-monitoring devices were not picking up chlorine readings, officials said. 

"We have received information that the fire is out. Teams are near the 'hot zone' now attempting to determine if the leak has been contained," emergency officials said around midnight.  "Olin / Dow personnel have been doing air monitoring near the site and are not picking up any readings," officials reported.

The shelter order was eventually canceled early Tuesday.  It had been in place since just before 9 p.m. Monday, when residents were told to stay in, turn off air conditioners, and close their windows and doors.

LA 1 and River Road were initially closed but have since reopened in the area of the plant.

The Olin Corporation released the following update Tuesday morning.

The Monday evening fire event within Olin’s facility in Plaquemine has been stopped. While our chlorine response efforts continue, the shelter-in-place has been lifted and roads have reopened, as there is no longer offsite potential exposure. There are no reported injuries. We will conduct a thorough analysis to identify the cause of the event. The safety of our employees, the community, and our environment is always our top priority.

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