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One dead, three critical after second Louisiana chemical plant incident in days

WVLA

Three people remained in critical condition late Friday after a container rupture at a Louisiana nitrogen plant killed one person and injured several others, police said.

CF Industries, one of the world's largest nitrogen fertilizer suppliers, confirmed that the accident occurred in a section of their Donaldsonville, La. plant that had been shut down for maintenance activity. The incident occurred at 6 p.m. local time on Friday, the company said.

According to a press release from the Illinois-based company, the accident was caused by the rupture of a container while workers were off-loading nitrogen from a truck at the plant located about halfway between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.There was no fire or explosion after the incident, according to the company's statement.

Louisiana State Police said that the scene was secure and there was no outside impact.

The bursting of the overpressurized nitrogen container was "like a balloon popping," Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley said.

According to federal records, CF Industries acquired $150,000 in fines for safety and health violations after an explosion and fire in 2000 that killed three people at the Donaldsville plant. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration records cited a dozen violations that it said posed "substantial probability" of serious injury or death.

The container rupture was initially reported as an explosion.

"There was no explosion, no fire," said plant manager Lou Frey.

As of Friday night, NBC33 reported that five victims remained in the hospital, and that some of the trauma victims would be transported to Baton Rouge hospitals for further treatment.

"Our focus is on our number one priority – the health and safety of our employees and the community.  We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our employees," said Frey. "Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected and their families."

Friday’s incident occurred just one day after an explosion and fire at Geismar’s Williams Olefins Chemical plant, just 30 miles north of Donaldsonville, that killed two people and left more than 70 others injured.

"The irony of back-to-back incidents has not escaped us," Wiley said. "We express our sincere condolences to the families of the deceased and injured."

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