Three injured in Louisiana refinery explosion : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Three injured in refinery explosion PETE TATTERSALL / The Daily Iberian / September 26, 2000 Email this story.

OSHA is investigating an explosion that rocked the M.A. Patout & Son refinery Monday morning, injuring three people.

"It involved a 'header,' which separates water droplets from vapor when heated. The container that holds water under pressure exploded and took off part of the building," said Iberia Parish Sheriff Sid Hebert.

According to Hebert, two of the injured, Martin Rodriguez, 19, and Damien Derbigney, 22, received second- and third-degree burns and were transported to Iberia Medical Center. From there Rodriguez was flown to a burn unit at Baton Rouge Medical Center, while Derbigney was treated at IMC. The third person injured, who was not identified, was taken to a doctor's office for treatment

"There were a lot of workers in the immediate area, but it's a very contained site, and the investigation continues to determine what created this," said Hebert, who received the emergency call around 9:50 a.m. Monday.

According to an Iberia Parish Sheriff's Department incident report, Wilson LeBlanc, 60, chief engineer at the mill, described a three-foot flange on the bottom of a steam separator that blew out, destroying everything in its path for more than 70 feet.

Brent Baudion, 37, said he saw steam leaking from the separator and was en route to tell LeBlanc about it when the bottom blew out. Baudion said he then turned the gas valves off that fed the boilers making the steam, according to the incident report.

The force of the explosion left what appeared to be 10- to 20-foot gaping hole in the side of the refinery, which opened Monday for the grinding season. The steam appeared to have shot out at least 100 feet from the building, spraying a nearby car. A heavy metal barrel, blown out by the explosion, lay twisted around a lower support beam.

Refinery workers yards away from the accident site described hearing steam leaking, then an explosion that sounded like a bomb. One worker, whose shirt was splattered with water and chips of concrete, described being knocked off balance by the explosion, then searching frantically through the steam for a safe exit.

According to Hebert, the mill is still operational.

-- Martin Thompson (, September 27, 2000

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