PCS Nitrogen working to close sulfuric acid leak, shelter in place lifted

Staff reports

GEISMAR - PCS Nitrogen is currently working to repair a low-level leak of sulfuric acid at its plant here, according to Louisiana State Police and the Ascension Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

A shelter in place that had been ordered by Louisiana State Police earlier this morning for the surrounding area as well as nearby White Castle, in Iberville Parish, has been lifted.

There were no injuries reported with the leak, which is believed to have come from a broken weld in a 700-ton storage tank, said Trooper Russell Graham with State Police Troop A. Graham said that the tank was leaking anywhre from 30 to 50 gallons per minute at first, but the leak had been slowed to around 10 gallons per minute . He also said that emergency crews sprayed the top of the cloud with water in order to keep it from ascending.

Rick Webre, director of the Ascension Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said that a shelter in place was ordered for nearby plants along the Mississippi RIver and in the White Castle area, where winds could possibly have blown the dangerous cloud.

During a shelter in place, those included in the warning should close all doors and windows, turn off air conditioning units and stay indoors, Webre said.

Roads leading to the plant were blocked by State Police, Graham said, and roads in White Castle were blocked until authorities could determine in which direction the cloud of sulfuric acid was heading. Those roads include River Road from Hwy. 3115 to Hwy. 73. The road is expected to reopen by 2:30 p.m., Graham said.

Graham said that plant officials expect to have the well completely dry "in six to eight hours."

Be sure to check with www.weeklycitizen.com for further updates on this situation.