Loud explosion at Mt. Airy Port facility

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 4, 2011

LAPLACE – An employee disposing of old bottles containing flammable materials at a port facility in Mt. Airy Tuesday morning caused a loud explosion that was seen and heard by several residents in the area.

St. John Parish spokesperson Paige Braud said the explosion happened around 8 a.m. at Petroleum Fuel & Terminal Co., a wharf and port facility on the Mississippi River.

Jim Herring, a manager at Petroleum Fuel, confirmed an unidentified flammable substance did explode inside a dumpster at the plant. He said an employee was “scrapping bottles” that were over twenty years old and were labeled flammable.

“We have not identified the substance in the bottle,” Herring said. “Our procedure is to empty the bottle, and then cut the bottle into three foot pieces inside the dumpster. We believe that one of the bottles was not totally empty resulting in the explosion when the bottle was cut.”

Herring said there were no injuries as a result of the explosion because the bottle was cut inside the dumpster. Herring said there are no concerns regarding hazardous substances in the air, and Petroleum Fuel is functioning under normal operations.