Explosion kills one, injures 10 at plant

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 27, 2000

DANIEL TYLER GOODEN / L’Observateur / May 27, 2000

DONALDSONVILLE – One man died and 10 others were injured when an explosion in Ammonia Unit 3 occurred at CF Industries in Donaldsonville about 11:30 p.m., Wednesday night.”We are very saddened by the loss of life and injuries,” said Louis Frey, operations manager.

The one man killed in the accident, as well as six of the injured workers, were Catalyst Process Specialists contractors from Texas, working for the company.

The other four injured were employed by CF Industries: Leroy Sullivan, shift supervisor, employed 24 years, resident of Donaldsonville; Mike Gautreaux, chemical operator, employed nine years, resident of St. Amant;Boyde Mahler, chemical operator, employed 20 years, resident of Vacherie; and James Moses, chemical operator, employed 15 years, resident of Geismar.

Unit 3 was undergoing routine maintenance when the explosion and fire occurred, said Frey. The site was secured within 30 minutes, and theinjured were evacuated quickly, said Kevin Cassard, public information officer.

No toxins or hazardous material escaped the plant, Cassard added.

The State Police Hazardous Materials Unit as well as other authorities were on the scene. The maintenance being done on the unit is notconsidered dangerous, and no extra precautions are required, added Cassard.

Four of the injured men were rushed to Riverview Medical Center in Gonzales, with the rest transported to the Baton Rouge General Hospital’s Burn Unit. Dealing with very severe burns, the Riverview staff treated thepatients, stabilized their conditions and they were transferred to Baton Rouge. All 10 workers are currently being treated at the burn unit, fivepatients in critical condition and five in stable condition.

On Thursday Cassard assured that all damage had been contained within the facility and that they were currently working with the families of the injured.

CF Industries manufactures ammonia and other nitrogen fertilizers at it’s Donaldsonville facility. The company is based in Long Grove, Ill.

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