2-mile mandatory evacuation issued around Marathon Petroleum site

Published 10:56 am Friday, August 25, 2023

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Editor’s Note: Evacuation sites have been updated.

GARYVILLE — As a precautionary measure, Parish President Jaclyn Hotard has issued an emergency declaration and declared a mandatory evacuation for all residents within two miles of Marathon Petroleum’s Garyville facility.

Emergency responders are currently working to contain a naphta release and fire surrounding a storage tank at the refinery. At this time, there are no reported injuries at the site.

Marathon officials have stated that impacts are contained to the Marathon Petroleum site.

LA 44 is the only road closed at this time.

A shelter is open at East St. John Preparatory Academy Gym, 400 Ory Drive., LaPlace, and West St. John High School at 480 Hwy. 3127 in Edgard. Transportation is available if needed by calling 985-652-2222 or 985-652-6338. Residents are asked to bring medications and any other items they need to the shelter.

Garyville Magnet students have evacuated to Lake Pontchartrain and Riverside Academy has evacuated to East St. John High, according to interim Superintendent Kendria Spears. All other school sites are sheltering in place.

No students have complained of respiratory problems, Spears said.

Parish officials were notified of the fire at 6:53 a.m. Friday.

St. John Parish fire officials and Marathon’s emergency responders are continuing to work to contain the fire. Hotard said additional fire personnel have been brought in to respond to any emergencies that may arise across the parish while the fire suppression efforts are underway.

Director of Public Safety Travis Perrilloux said the smoke plume is traveling West.

Air monitoring is being conducted at the facility and in the community.

Justin Lawrence, human resources manager for Marathon, said the fire began when product contained in the perimeter of a storage tank ignited. The product in the tank is partially refined and used as a component to make gasoline.

An investigation will be conducted to determine the cause of the release.

Marathon is also receiving fire suppression assistance from brother and sister refineries.

No estimated time of suppression has been given.