Fire extinguished days after chemical leak ignited at Marathon Petroleum, plant officials


GARYVILLE, La. (WVUE) – Four days after a chemical storage tank began leaking and ignited, blackening the St. John Parish skies in plumes of smoke, officials say the last of the hot spots have been put out and the fire is officially extinguished as of Monday (Aug. 28) morning.

A spokesperson for Marathon Petroleum says air quality monitoring will continue in the impacted area of the Garyville refinery.

Mt. Airy Magnet School was closed Monday as a precaution.

Plant officials say naphtha leaked out of a storage tank and caught fire around 7 a.m. on Friday in a “containment dike” surrounding the tank. Two people sustained minor injuries and 10 others were treated for heat stress.

See also: Chemical leak, fire reported at Marathon Petroleum refinery in Garyville; evacuations lifted

A two-mile evacuation order was issued by Parish President Jaclyn Hotard just before 10 a.m. out of an abundance of caution.

Authorities have maintained that there were no off-site impacts and no threat to the public.

“The fire is out and it’s secure,” said Greg Langley with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ). “We are still monitoring in the community now to make sure everything is safe. It’s been non-detect the whole time. We haven’t had anything above an action level.”

Environmental watchdogs say that even though company officials claim the public was never in jeopardy, air quality is worth keeping a close eye on.

“Every single time you have chemicals that come from gasoline, in there are carinogens,” said Anne Rolfes with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “There’s no way that it wasn’t released into the atmosphere.”

Governor John Bel Edwards says he will look into community complaints about slow notification of Friday’s fire. If it were to ever happen again, residents living near the plant say they will be looking for more timely notifications.

“A siren going off, something saying ‘put on your TV or get on your phone.’ Tell us if we need to evacuate. Tell us one way or the other,” said Garyville resident Linda Miano. “I was more nervous, getting ready and prepared to leave, not knowing what was going on. I’m glad for the all-clear.”

Parish officials say they are reviewing their notification system.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

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