Chemical Lab That Produces Toxic Chemicals On Fire In Louisiana, Residents Warned To Shelter In Place


Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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Just hours after Hurricane Laura pummeled through Louisiana Thursday morning, a chemical plant in Westlake caught fire.

Emergency Services Unit (ESU) technicians are working to stop a chlorine leak from the BioLab chemical manufacturing facility in Westlake, LA, the Louisiana State Police announced in a Facebook post.

Louisiana State Police Emergency Services Unit (ESU) technicians are working a hazardous material incident involving a…

Posted by Louisiana State Police on Thursday, August 27, 2020

Hurricane Laura caused the chlorine in the plant to react and decompose, Colonel Kevin Reeves said during a press conference with the governor. When the product decomposes it releases heat and begins to generate chlorine gas in the atmosphere and then burn, he said, also nothing that the investigation is ongoing and it remains unclear what exactly triggered the fire.

Residents near the area have been warned to remain inside, according to a tweet from Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.

“Close your windows and doors and TURN OFF YOUR AIR CONDITIONING UNITS. There is a chemical fire,” tweeted Edwards.

Chlorine is toxic and can be deadly if inhaled, according to the CDC. Exposure to the toxin can cause burning pain, blurry vision and difficulty breathing.

BioLab makes chlorine-based products and poisonous pesticides, according to Forbes. They are also a “major source of criteria pollutants, a major source of Hazardous Air Pollutants…and a major source of Louisiana Administrative Code (“LAC”) Title 33 Chapter 51 Toxic Air Pollutants (“TAPs”),” according to Louisiana environmental regulatory documents.

The fire comes as clean-up from Hurricane Laura begins. Lake Charles, Sulphur and Westlake were severely damaged, according to ABC13. (RELATED: Hurricane Laura Takes Life Of 14-Year-Old Girl)