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CF plant blast in Louisiana blamed on ruptured nitrogen vessel

June 15, 2013 at 1:24 PM

DONALDSONVILLE, La., June 15 (UPI) -- The explosion at a chemical plant in Donaldsonville, La., that killed an employee was caused by a ruptured nitrogen vessel, an official said.

At least seven people were hurt in the blast Friday, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported. It occurred a day after an explosion and fire at the Williams Olefins plant in Geismar, also in Ascension Parish, killed two people and injured more than 100.

The dead man was identified as Ronald "Rocky" Morris, 55, of Belle Rose, La..

Lou Frey, vice president and general manager at the CF Nitrogen Complex, said the vessel that ruptured at about 6:15 p.m., was in a part of the plant that had been shut down for maintenance. There was no fire at the plant.

"We do not know exactly what happened, but we do want to find out what happened," Frey said. "It's very important to us, but we don't have the details."

Sheriff Jeff Wiley said an 18-wheel truck was loading product at CF Industries in Donaldsonville at the time of the 6:45 p.m. Friday explosion, The (Baton Rouge) Advocate reported.

Wiley said all the injured who had been hospitalized were in stable or fair condition.

No chemicals were released into the atmosphere and the explosion did not pose a threat to the surrounding area, Wiley told the Times-Picayune.

Three people were killed and eight injured at the same plant in an explosion in 2000 that led to 14 citations for health and safety violations and a $149,850 fine from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The Donaldsonville plant is North America's largest nitrogen operation, the company says on its website.

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