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Worker missing after New Orleans pipeline explosion

By Daniel J. Graeber
Worker missing after New Orleans pipeline explosion
Dozens of homes evacuated in New Olreans after a gas pipeline exploded Thursday evening. Map courtesy of St. Charles Parish.

Feb. 10 (UPI) -- One worker for Phillips 66 is unaccounted for and two others were injured after an explosion on a gas pipeline near New Orleans, the company said.

The company confirmed in a joint statement with officials at St. Charles Parish in New Orleans that a 20-inch gas pipeline exploded at the Paradis plant about 30 minutes outside of New Orleans.

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Three Phillips 66 employees and three contractors were on-site at the time of explosion, reported first at around 7 p.m.

"Two of the contract workers were injured and taken to area hospitals for treatment," the joint statement read. "One Phillips 66 employee remains unaccounted for."

St. Charles Parish officials evacuated about 60 homes in and around the vicinity of the explosion. The company said the pipeline has been isolated, leaving whatever is left inside the pipeline to burn off.

Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne told reporters the fire was high pressure and high intensity. Phillips 66 said the pipeline was carrying raw natural gas liquids to the Paridis plant in Louisiana.

State police were quoted by the Times-Picayune as saying the cause of the fire remains under investigation. Champagne said he's "not sure" if a valve or gasket failed on site.

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Eight people died, dozens were injured and 38 homes were destroyed in the September 2010 explosion caused by the rupture of a 54-year-old gas line in San Bruno, Calif. Utility company Pacific Gas & Electric Co. paid more than $500 million to settle claims arising from the blast.

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