One man is dead and eight others were injured in an explosion and fire at an olefins plant on June 13, in Geismar, La. Williams Partners confirmed the fatality at its facility is assessing the damage.
Zachary Green, 29, was an operator at the plant. He started work at Williams last October. The company is also closely monitoring the status of one employee and seven contractors who were hospitalized and are being treated for injuries. All but one of the injured has been released from the hospital.
Williams is cooperating with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) on their investigations into the cause of the incident.
The plant remains shut down and the expansion work that was occurring is temporarily suspended. Neither the full extent of the damage nor the time needed to make repairs is known.
An initial investigation indicates the explosion originated in the propylene fractionator area of the plant. The piping, heat exchangers and reboilers in the area adjacent to the propylene fractionator have been seriously damaged and will likely need to be replaced. Sections of the electrical cable trays in the elevated portions of a pipe rack adjacent to the propylene fractionator tower sustained enough damage such that significant amounts of the electrical power cable and control wiring in the plant will need to be replaced. An approximately 50-ft section of the plant pipe rack containing portions of the plant steam system, pipeline ethane feed vaporization systems and fuel-gas conditioning equipment sustained damage that will require the replacement of support structures and significant amounts of piping.
Other equipment will be evaluated when the company has access to the incident area.
While the investigation and plans for repairs are underway, the company has been and remains focused on employees, contract workers and families personally affected by the event.
“We are grieving for the loss of Zack who was part of our Williams community,” said Alan Armstrong, Williams’ president and CEO. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time of sorrow. We also remain deeply concerned about Williams’ personnel and contractors who sustained injuries, some quite serious.”
Williams has deployed grief counselors to the area to meet with personnel and offer assistance.
The fire has been extinguished and Williams is cooperating with federal, state and local agencies in assessing the situation and determining the cause of the explosion. The extent of damage is unknown at this time.