NEWS

Emergency response, safety top priority at CF

DERON TALLEY, EDITOR @dvillechief

Despite losing three lives and having dozens injured in the two separate plant incidents on Thursday and Friday in Ascension Parish involving the Williams Olefins Chemical Plant in Geismar and the CF Industries Fertilizer Plant in Donaldsonville, safety and emergency response remains most important.

On Friday evening, CF Industries’ incident involved the rupture of a nitrogen distribution header where there was no fire or release of hazardous chemical. Unfortunately, the incident did result in fatal injuries to one CF employee, seven others were injured, of which, six have been treated and released from the hospital, and one CF employee remains hospitalized in stable condition.

“CF industries’ number one priority is the health and safety of its employees and the surrounding community,” Blythe Lamonica said, spokesperson for CF.

According to Lamonica, CF Industries, parish and state officials train for events similar to Friday's incident on a routine basis.

“As a result, the cooperation between all involved allowed for the situation to be responded to quickly and efficiently,” Lamonica said.

She said local and state emergency response officials were called immediately after the incident occurred as part of both CF and regulatory protocol. Some of the responders and agencies notified include: Louisiana State Police, Ascension Parish Sheriff's office, and local Donaldsonville emergency services.

Both CF Industries' emergency personnel and the first responders worked together in securing the situation.

“They were critical to assessing the situation, ensuring the safety of the surrounding area, and attending to the medical needs of injured employees,” Lamonica said about CF’s emergency personnel and first responders. “The emergency personnel and first responders performed their services in a professional and efficient manner.”

Along with CF’s emergency personnel, Donaldsonville’s Fire Department was asked to assist with the injured, according to Donaldsonville Fire Chief Chuck Montero. Montero, who was not in attendance at the scene, said the firemen on duty responded efficiently where triage, initial treatment, and a patient transport method were quickly enacted.

“Our department was called to assist with the injured,” Montero said. “Scene safety was the responsibility of CF Industries personnel.  They know the process and the hazards.  Our responders were escorted by its employees to ensure our safety.”

Lamonica added, “CF has activated its Employee Assistance Program for its employees and their families to assist them in this difficult time.”