Hurricane Laura Rips Through Heart of Louisiana Chemical Plant Country, Triggers Catastrophic Chlorine Gas Fire

Hurricane Laura Rips Through Heart of Louisiana Chemical Plant Country, Triggers Catastrophic Chlorine Gas Fire

Hurricane Laura slammed into the Gulf Coast of Louisiana in the middle of the night on August 27, 2020. A Category 4 hurricane, Laura stormed onto the coast of Louisiana with sustained winds at 75 miles per hour and gusts over 100 miles per hour, ripping through the very heart of the Gulf chemical plant country.

Dramatic storm surges, heavy rain, and flooding dominated the coast and inland areas for days following the brutal arrival of the savage hurricane. In the immediate wake of Laura pummeling the Gulf coast, a major chlorine plant called BioLab suffered catastrophic damage. The chlorine plant went up in flames, a blaze that is yet to be fully contained.

Large amounts of chlorine gas have been released into the air, together with a dark plume of thick contaminated smoke. As of the beginning of the week following the start of the fire at the plant, the chlorine gas and black smoke has been hanging in air over the Lake Charles area.

In the aftermath of the start of the chemical plant fire and resulting release of harmful gas and smoke into the air, the Governor of Louisiana warned residents in the Lake Charles area to shelter in place at their homes, keep their windows and doors closed, and to turn off their air conditioning systems (if a resident still had electricity).

Petrochemical industry experts have consistently maintained that a worst-case scenario is a storm-driven release of chlorine gas like the one that occurred at the BioLab plant in Louisiana during Hurricane Laura. After the chlorine plant blaze had been burning for several days, the full health impact of the situation, including the release of gas and smoke into the air over surrounding areas, is not yet known. Investigators and experts continue to monitor the situation.

Four days after Laura slammed into the Gulf Coast, a number of deaths had been reported. Thus far no deaths have been specifically linked to the dogged chlorine plant blaze. With that noted, and as was mentioned a moment ago, there is yet to be formulated a clear idea as to what the ultimate health consequences of exposure to the chlorine gas and smoke will be in short and long term.

Experts have been warning chemical plant owners and operators, as well as regulators, of the potential dangers associated with hurricanes. These persistent and pervasive warnings have followed hurricane-related fires, emissions, and spills at chemical plants over the course of the past 15 years. These have included chemical plant fires, emissions, and spills following both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Harvey.

In addition to the fire and dangerous gas and smoke release at the BioLab chlorine plant, there is concern over the impact Hurricane Laura will have at what is known as the Hackberry Oil Field. The Hackberry Oil Field is located in the environmentally sensitive marsh area located due south of Lake Charles. The Hackberry Oil Field includes thousands of active (and abandoned) oil wells. In addition, the Hackberry Oil Field is home to a huge petroleum infrastructure that includes oil pipelines and storage tanks.

Due to reduced crews on duty as the result of the coronavirus pandemic, there are real questions as to whether appropriate preparation for Hurricane Laura had been undertaken by petroleum industry companies of different types operating in the Hackberry Oil Field. As a result, public health and safety experts and others are highly concerned about potential health and other risks that might arise form the Hackberry Oil Field as the result of Hurricane Laura.

Not only are residents of the Gulf area in Louisiana and Texas impacted by Hurricane Laura, so are businesses of all types. This includes businesses that have been or will be impacted by the BioLab chlorine plant explosion. If your business has suffered losses as the result of a storm, including property damage and business closure, the legal team at The Doan Law Firm stands ready to answer any questions you may have about your situation.

You can schedule an appointment with an experienced Doan Law Firm business loss lawyer by calling (800) 349-0000 any time of the day or night. There is no charge for an initial consultation with an attorney from our firm. The Doan Law Firm makes an attorney fee promise to you. Our firm never charges a fee unless we win for you.

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