Iberville Parish leaders frustrated on how long it took plant officials to alert them about chlorine leak

PLAQUEMINE, LA (WAFB) - It took about an hour for plant officials to contact Iberville Parish leaders after Friday's chlorine leak, according to the head of the parish's Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP).

"We should know before then, we should know in the first five minutes, ten minutes at the most. We just want to know why it took them so long, because we have to tell our residents what's going," said Bart Morgan, a councilman in Iberville Parish.

Olin Corporation produces chlorine at the DOW plant north of Plaquemine. The plant lost power on Friday, causing a large flare and a chlorine leak. Morgan expressed frustration at the delay. He lives right across the Mississippi from the plant and noticed the large smoke plume when he arrived home on Friday. He called OEP to see what was going on.

"They said they heard across the sheriff's radio that they had a spill, but they were not informed," Morgan said.

Laurie Doiron, director of the Iberville OEP, said her office had to call DOW to find out about the leak, not the other way around. After the incident, parish leaders shut down a part of LA 1 near the plant. Communities in the surrounding area were ordered to shelter in place. Non-essential employees were evacuated due to the leak and three were kept under observation for several hours after the incident and were later released.

In this case, no one was injured. Even so, Morgan said this cannot happen again. "Even if it's a small one, we need to know. A small one to us is just as important to us as a big one," Morgan said.

Parish leaders said they hope to talk to plant leaders about the incident this Wednesday. Entergy released a statement Monday in regards to the power loss at the plant, which is said to have caused the chlorine leak. The statement reads:

We are working closely with DOW to assist them with their investigation of Friday's power outage at the plant. Since DOW generates their own power, we do not know how long of an outage they experienced. There is evidence of a sugar cane burn under a transmission line that may have caused the line to trip earlier that afternoon. An investigation is underway with all parties involved, and at this time, no further details are available.

Meanwhile, Louisiana State Police is currently investigating the events of last Friday.

"We're going to look into the circumstances surrounding the incident to determine if there was something negligent that caused that incident to take place and how that incident impacted public safety," said TFC Bryan Lee.


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