Lawsuit filed against Williams Olefins after deadly explosion

Geismar plant explosion (Source: from Air Med and Acadian Ambulance)
Geismar plant explosion (Source: from Air Med and Acadian Ambulance)

GEISMAR, LA (WAFB) - A man working near the Williams Olefins plant in Geismar, LA filed a lawsuit against the plant Friday morning. This comes after the Thursday morning explosion that injured more than 70 and killed one.

The man who died in the explosion was identified as Zachary C. Green, 29, of Hammond, LA. He was found in the plant by the Louisiana State Police Haz-Mat team after the fire.

The lawsuit filed Friday morning is a petition for damages and a request for class action status. The man who filed the suit, Galen P. Mitchell, Sr., was working at the nearby plant BASF.

He claims BASF was downwind from Williams Olefins and a large cloud of black smoke escaped from the facility after the explosion causing "noxious and harmful chemicals" to escape from the facility.

The release of the chemicals caused the shelter in place for a two mile radius around the explosion site. Also, four nearby plants were placed under shelter-in-place orders. Those plants were Honeywell, Univer, Innophos and PCS Nitrogen.

The shelter-in-place for the two mile radius was lifted around 1:30 p.m. The explosion happened around 8:30 a.m.

The suit claims that Williams Olefins caused the explosion and the release of the toxic, noxious and harmful chemicals because they owned the equipment involved in the explosion.

The lawsuit also claims that the explosion caused damages to Mitchell and others nearby.

The petitioner, Mitchell, says his symptoms include throat and sinus irritation, suffering fear and fright, and emotional and mental anguish.

The lawsuit states: "All of the above considerations caused petitioner and those similarly situated fear, anguish, discomfort and inconvenience as well as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and psychiatric and psychological damages, evacuation, shelter in place, and property damages."

"At the present time, petitioners allege that the class consists of those persons in or near the community of Geismar, Louisiana who sustained compensable damages from the fault of defendants (Williams Olefins) as specified herein."

Alan Armstrong, CEO of Williams Olefins said in a news conference Friday afternoon that he was unaware of any lawsuit against the company

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