Officials: Hydrogen explosion at REG plant in Geismar injures 4, 1 severely

Officials: Hydrogen explosion at REG plant in Geismar injures 4, 1 severely

GEISMAR, LA (WAFB) - Four people were injured, one of them severely, at Renewable Energy Group in Geismar when hydrogen released from a line and exploded late Thursday night, according to the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office.

The Geismar and Gonzales fire departments responded to the incident off LA 30 around 11 p.m. APSO reported the investigation revealed hydrogen likely pressurized in a line being worked on and resulted in the gas being released. Investigators added an unidentified source ignited the released hydrogen, causing the explosion and fire.

Deputies said one REG employee was severely injured. They added three contract workers were also injured. The Baton Rouge General Regional Burn Center reported one of the victims is listed in critical condition and another is listed in serious condition. Hospital officials said the third patient is listed in good condition, while the fourth was released.

The Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office posted the following information to Facebook:

Last night, Nick Matassa, son of Selma and Kenny Matassa, was badly burned in an industrial accident. He is currently undergoing treatment at a Baton Rouge hospital. Your prayers are needed for his recovery, and also please say a special prayer for three other workers who were also injured in this industrial accident. We at the APSO appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

REG officials issued the following statement Friday morning:

At approximately 12 a.m. central, a fire occurred at our Geismar biorefinery. Emergency crews quickly responded to contain the fire and it was declared completely extinguished at 4:20 a.m. All employees on site have been accounted for. Four people-one REG employee and three contractors-were injured and are being treated at Baton Rouge General Hospital. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families.

"It was an industrial fire, not a chemical release," said Rick Webre, director of the Ascension Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. "We want them to be assured that there was no impact to the public and no impact to the roadways around the facility."

Officials reported all operations have resumed at REG. They added the shelter in place orders put into effect at other plants as a precaution were all lifted early Friday morning.

"These facilities sit very close to one another at fenceline proximity, so a lot of times, there may be, out of just an abundance of caution or situational awareness, they may ask surrounding facilities, 'Hey, pay attention, just in case we need to let you know some information," Amy Johnson with APOHSEP said.

According to the company's website, the REG plant acquired the facility in 2014. It produces about 75 million gallons of renewable hydrocarbon diesel and renewable naphtha.

There was a previous fire at the REG plant on April 2.

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