Chemical leak sealed after lightning strikes plant in Port Allen

Published: Aug. 12, 2013 at 7:02 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 12, 2013 at 9:54 PM CDT
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Road closures: The Butadiene leak has shut down River Road from Lafiton to the U.S. 190 Bridge
Road closures: The Butadiene leak has shut down River Road from Lafiton to the U.S. 190 Bridge
Water being sprayed onto structure at the plant
Water being sprayed onto structure at the plant

PORT ALLEN, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana State Police say the recommended shelter-in-place for those in Downtown Baton Rouge has been lifted.

The shelter-in-place was a recommendation not mandatory for those in the downtown area. This happened about two hours after lightning struck a plant in Port Allen, LA and the chemical Butadiene was released in a vapor cloud above the plant.

Department of Environmental Quality officials went to the Capitol in Downtown Baton Rouge and did not detect a presence of Butadiene.

Louisiana State Police say the recommended shelter-in-place was announced because of the direction of the winds that were blowing from Port Allen to Downtown Baton Rouge.

Hazmat crews went into the plant around 5 p.m. to manually shut down the valve that was leaking Butadiene. Just before 6 p.m., officials reported that the leak has been sealed.

Authorities say a lightning strike is to blame for a chemical leak at Intercontinental Terminals Co. in Port Allen, LA. It happened around 3 p.m. ITC is located at 2449 N River Rd.

The Butadiene leak has shut down River Road from Lafiton to the U.S. 190 Bridge. LA 1 was shut down for a short time, but was reopened by 3:10 p.m.

Louisiana State Police, West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office and Hazmat all responded to the emergency call. State police say the lightning strike hit a vacuum release valve, and a small vapor cloud of Butadiene was released. Butadiene is a flammable gas.

For more information on Butadiene and the health effects, click here

Emergency officials are pouring water on the vacuum release at this time.

All air traffic has been restricted over the plant.

Nearby plants have been notified to be on standby for possible evacuations, but those have not happened as of this time. As of 3 p.m., police have not ordered evacuations for residents or businesses in that area.

ExxonMobil released the following statement about the chemical leak:

We can confirm that a Butadiene release has occurred at the Intercontinental Chemical Terminal owned by ExxonMobil. As soon as the release was detected, ExxonMobil Chemical activated its emergency response procedures for mutual aid. Emergency response teams are on site and working with the local authorities to ensure the safety of personnel and to protect the environment. We are performing air monitoring at the facility. We will provide additional information as soon as it becomes available.

From the Intercontinental Terminals Company website:

Intercontinental Terminals Company has provided safe and reliable terminal services to the petrochemical industry for four decades.

As the premier storage facility on the U.S. Gulf Coast, ITC ranks at the top of its kind worldwide both in capacity and customer service.

With approximately 12,757,800 barrels (2,028,331 cbm) in 239 tanks, ITC stores all kinds of petrochemical liquids and gases, as well as fuel oil, bunker oil and distillates. ITC prides itself on providing top notch customer care while maintaining the highest safety standards.

ITC is also proud to participate in the American Chemistry Council Responsible Care Partnership program.

ITC's staff of over 239 dedicated associates is the backbone of ITC's continued success, being key to provide reliable and safe services.

ITC has facilities in Port Allen, Louisiana, Deer Park, Texas, and Antwerp, Belgium.

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