Evacuation and shelter in place started at 8:30 - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Evacuation still active, shelter in place lifted

Posted: Updated:
Source: Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Source: Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development
I-10 East near the crash is completely empty. I-10 East near the crash is completely empty.
Traffic backed up on Burbank Drive. Traffic backed up on Burbank Drive.
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

UPDATE: The shelter in place mandate has been lifted. This means the people in the homes and businesses outside of the 500 yard radius from the crash site are able to go outside. The homes in the evacuated area are still under that mandate.

FROMLOUISIANA STATE POLICE: I-10 continues to be closed east at I-10/I-12 split and westbound at La 3246 (Seigan Lane). At approximately 23:45 hours on 8/23/2012, a successful remediation of the product was conducted on site. The site is currently being assessed and preparations are underway to begin clean up and for BRPD to start their crash investigation. Expectations are for the roadway to be open as soon as possible baring any delays in the clean up process. Further updates will follow upon the re-opening of the interstate.

Essen is shut down from Perkins to Jefferson until the vented burn is completed.

In a news conference held at 10 p.m. Wednesday, local and state officials are on the scene of the crash. Here are their statements:

OFFICIALS: Hoping traffic will be alleviated for your commute Thursday morning if this isn't finished by then.

OFFICIALS: All patients and staff of OLOL are safe. Essen Lane in front of the hospital is closed. Access to ER is closed. Other routes are available.

OFFICIALS: Evacuees are within a 500 yard radius of the accident scene.

OFFICIALS: Intend to start the process of vent and burn around midnight.

OFFICIALS: This process will take some time and it will be a slow process to vent and burn the flammable liquid and to clean up the mess.

OFFICIALS: Experts will be on the scene to make sure the roadway and structure has not been compromised.

OFFICIALS: you may hear 2 large booms tonight, it is to release pressure. They are asking you to stay calm and not to panic.

Congestion status of alternate routes for I-10 closure:

  • US 190 – Light
  • Airline Hwy – Light
  • Perkins – Mild
  • Highland –Light
  • Burbank – Light
  • Nicholson – Light
  • Jefferson Hwy – Mild
  • Siegen – Light

Officials say Our Lady of the Lake Hospital will not be affected by the evacuation that started at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. The evacuation comes after an 18-wheeler was involved in a crash that happened just before 4 a.m. Wednesday.

WHAT HAPPENED

LSP said the accident happened on I-10 East at Essen when a car flipped on the interstate around 3:45 a.m. A tanker truck stopped for the accident and was rear-ended by another 18-wheeler. That truck was hauling beer.

The tanker is carrying isobutane, which is similar to the propane used for barbecue grills. It is an extremely flammable gas. The wreck caused a leak. A hazardous materials crew was called to the scene, as well as the Department of Environmental Quality and other experts related to this incident.

The tanker was hauling about 9,000 gallons of isobutane. Officials are worried it could ignite and cause a fire. Col. Mike Edmonson with the Louisiana State Police says "this was a freak accident," and "the flammable liquid leaking out of the tanker is looking for a reason to ignite."

They said the isobutane must be transferred from the tanker to another one before the scene can be cleared. However, the process will take some time because the valves used to transfer the isobutane were damaged in the crash.

THE CLEANUP

The process to replace those damaged valves is both dangerous and tedious. The gas will continue to leak until the valves are replaced and the isobutane is off-loaded. The off-loading process has not begun. Several experts are on the scene and they believe the safest way to offload the fuel is to do a "vent and leak" or "vent and burn."

DEQ is doing air checks, testing samples to make sure the gas isn't spreading too much. So far, it is all clear.

Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden says the main concern in this situation is the safety of residents.

Several experts are on the scene and they believe the safest way to offload the fuel is to do a "vent and burn."

The preparation to begin the "vented burn" started around 8:30 p.m., truckloads of dirt and heavy equipment were seen going by the site of the crash. The preparation is ahead of schedule. We're told it's expected to take several hours.

THE EVACUATION

For people who are forced to evacuate, Red Cross has a shelter at the BREC Facility at 2800 Nairn Drive.

It will be Baton Rouge Police Officers knocking on doors. It is suggested that if you do not want to be awakened in the middle of the night, you should leave your home now. Again, the evacuation is immediately around the site of the accident; less than a half mile radius, according to officials.

Businesses and residents in the immediate area will be personally notified by officers knocking on doors. The evacuation areas include the Drury Inn, some area hotels, and about 40 homes in the Essen Lane and Essen Heights subdivisions.

The evacuation only affects areas within yards of the accident.

Also, the shelter in place for other homes in that area is activated. The homes are all within the existing blocked off parts of Essen. UPDATE: The shelter in place mandate was lifted just before 1 a.m Thursday. This means the people in the homes and businesses outside of the 500 yard radius from the crash site are able to go outside. The homes in the evacuated area are still under that mandate.

A shelter in place will be activated for an area surrounding the evacuated area. OLOL will be affected when the shelter in place is activated. OLOL will not be evacuated. The hospital will be open normal hours. The hospital will not be able to be accessed from Essen. The only access to OLOL will be from Hennessey off Perkins, on the North side. If you're an employee of OLOL, you are advised to call your supervisor for further instruction.

Mayor Kip Holden says when the evacuation is activated, the people affected need to just go, and not wait this one out.

Police officers are now on 12 hour shifts to make sure everyone is safe. There is a chance this could last into Thursday.

Red Cross volunteers are prepared to open a shelter, if needed once the city/parish makes a decision about evacuations. Mayor Holden mentioned in the 5:30 news conference Wednesday that a shelter in place would also be activated. The Red Cross will have guidance for residents who are asked to stay inside.

Copyright 2012 WAFB. All rights reserved.

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