On Thursday, October 8, a natural gas plant exploded in Gibson, Louisiana—leaving three contractors dead and two individuals in serious condition. It is reported that the blast was heard at approximately 11 in the morning and could be heard over a mile from the blast in Terrebonne Parish. Smoke filled the sky and could still be seen into Thursday evening as two people continued to receive intensive medical care in hospital burn units.
According to Williams Partners, the company that owns the facility, the plant was not in operation at the time of the blast and there was no gas flowing in the system. Although it was initially reported that a pipeline had ruptured, it is currently believed that the source of the explosion is what is known as a “slug catcher.” That piece of equipment, which collects hydrocarbons building up in pipelines, had been receiving maintenance.
Police have reported that there were a total of 20 people inside the plant when the explosion occurred. Four of the workers were missing when emergency responders arrived to the scene, but everyone has since been accounted for. Three people have been reported as dead and two workers have been hospitalized for burns.
"We are deeply saddened by reports of serious injuries to personnel working at the scene. Our thoughts and prayers at this point are with the impacted families and those people that are injured. We will cooperate with the authorities, we will cooperate with all the regulatory agencies and we will thoroughly investigate the cause of the accident, but, at this time, we don't have any particular information to that effect," said the Williams operations manager.
2013 Williams Plant Explosion Kills 2, Injures 100+
On June 13, 2013, another Williams plant explosion occurred that killed 2 workers and injured 114 individuals. The Geismar, Louisiana plant explosion was reported as being caused by the catastrophic failure of a heat exchanger. In December of that year, Williams was cited by OSHA for six process safety management standard violations, including one willful violation. The company received a fine of $99,000.