State monitors incident at the Air Liquide facility

staff reports

The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) has activated its Crisis Action Team (CAT) as it monitors an incident that resulted in a fire at the Air Liquide facility in the community of Winterville. West Baton Rouge Parish has declared a Parish State of Emergency.

About 40 homes located in a one mile radius around the plant were evacuated. That evacuation order is still in place. Shelters are set up at community centers in Erwinville and Port Allen.

Once the fire is extinguished, Louisiana State Police (LSP) HazMat will assess remaining cylinders to ensure stability. LSP Air Support will continue to provide aerial surveillance for command post operations. LSP is also redirecting traffic and working roadblocks. US 190 will remain closed for an undetermined amount of time to ensure public safety.

DEQ was on the scene within 15 minutes of the reported incident. DEQ mobilized its Mobile Air Monitoring Laboratory for additional sampling. DEQ says the main chemical involved is acetylene which is mainly used during the welding process. DEQ reports that air monitoring has not picked up off-site impacts.

The Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) has also posted portable message boards with information on road closures along the interstate and roadways affected. Motorists can get the latest updates on real-time road conditions by dialing 511 from their telephone and saying the route or region about which they are seeking information or visiting the 511 Traveler Information Web site at www.511la.org.