Last Tuesday, a fire erupted at the ExxonMobil Refinery in Baton Rouge. The fire started at a natural gas pipeline shortly before midnight on Tuesday and burned for about seven hours before crews were able to extinguish it. It affected pipelines that were placed 50 feet above the plant’s floor and forced a partial shutdown of operations. Officials reported no injuries from the fire.
ExxonMobil’s volunteer firefighters responded to the scene of the incident and did not request assistance to put out the blaze. However, the Baton Rouge Fire Department is monitoring air quality in the area out of concerns for hazardous materials released by the fire. So far, the hazardous materials team has not detected any unsafe levels of contaminants outside of the plant.
ExxonMobil has not been able to say when it will resume operations. The refinery is the second-largest in the United States and its partial shutdown is expected to boost gasoline prices throughout the nation. According to Reuters, the company is among refiners who’ve had weak margins because of an excess in supply and reduced demand for some types of fuel. Exxon refining profits fell 42 percent last year.
Multiple ExxonMobil Fires Have Recently Occurred Along the Gulf Coast
Falling profits are not the only problems ExxonMobil is facing. The company’s refineries dot the Gulf Coast, and the Baton Rouge fire marks the third significant fire that has broken out at an ExxonMobil plant in less than two years.
In July of 2019, an explosion at the ExxonMobil refinery in Baytown, Texas injured 37 people. The blaze was the second in just five months at the Baytown Refinery. In March of the same year, a fire broke out in the massive complex and no injuries related to this accident were reported.