Police: 1 killed, 7 injured in Donaldsonville plant blast - FOX 8, WVUE, fox8live.com, weather, app, news, saints

Police: 1 killed, 7 injured in Donaldsonville plant blast

DONALDSONVILLE, La. (AP) - A second blast in two days killed a worker at a chemical plant in Donaldsonville Friday, just miles from the site where two workers were killed a day earlier.

The latest explosion also injured seven people, some critically, said State Police Trooper Jared Sandifer.

Sandifer said the injured were taken to area hospitals following the explosion at a CF Industries facility. The deceased worker was identified as Ronald "Rocky" Morris, 55, of Belle Rose.

Sandifer said the explosion didn't pose a threat to the area surrounding the plant.

Nitrogen was being offloaded by hose from an 18-wheeler and pressurizing a metallic "vessel" when the pressure built and caused the explosion, Sandifer said.

"It did horrific damage to the area," Sandifer said.

The State Police's hazardous materials unit will inspect the plant to ensure that it's safe and help determine if there was negligence involved.

CF Industries' website says the plant can produce roughly five million tons of nitrogen for agricultural and industrial uses annually.

On Thursday, an explosion at a chemical plant in Geismar owned by Williams Cos. Inc. led to two deaths and dozens of injuries. Donaldsonville and Geismar are located in Ascension Parish and straddle the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

Deerfield, Ill.-based CF Industries said in a news release that Friday's incident occurred at about 6 p.m. in a part of the plant that had been shut down for maintenance activity.

"The incident involved the rupture of an inert nitrogen vessel during the off-loading of nitrogen," the news release said. "There was no fire or chemical release nor is there any threat or hazard posed to the community."

CF Industries manufactures ammonia and other nitrogen fertilizers at its Donaldsonville plant.

"Our focus is on our number one priority - the health and safety of our employees and the community," plant manager Lou Frey said in a statement. "We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our employees."

This isn't the first deadly blast at the company's Donaldsonville plant. Three workers were killed and nine others were injured by an explosion and fire at the facility in May 2000.

Later that year, the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration imposed a fine of nearly $150,000 against CF Industries. OSHA cited the company for 14 alleged safety and health violations, 12 of which were described by the agency as serious. The company didn't contest the citations and agreed to pay the penalties.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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