UPDATE: 3:07 p.m. -- In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal confirmed that one person was killed in a morning explosion at a chemical plant in Geismer. Jindal said that 73 workers were receiving treatment at local hospitals.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the workers and families at the Olefins plant," Jindal said. "We are going to provide every assistance we can to help them get back on their feet."
The blast and resulting fire occurred at the Williams Olefins facility in Geismar, according to WAFB.
"We are currently focused on the safety and well-being of our employees, contractors and the local community who are responding to the situation," the company said in a statement. "Emergency shut-down valves have been closed. The unit is isolated."
Footage taken of the aftermath shows a massive cloud of smoke rising high above the plant. Witnesses described the scene as a "fireball in the air," The Times-Picayune reports. Employees of nearby plants were told to take shelter and several roads have been closed off as a precaution.
It remains unclear what caused the explosion, which occurred around 8:30 a.m., Central Time.
Geismar is located approximately 20 miles southeast of Baton Rouge, La.
According to the Williams Olefins website:
The Geismar, La. facility annually produces approximately 1.3 billion pounds of ethylene and 90 million pounds of polymer grade propylene. Also in Louisiana, the olefins team is responsible for the ethane transportation business consisting of approximately 200 miles of pipelines, as well as a refinery-grade propylene splitter.
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