A natural gas pipeline exploded last night (February 9) near the Williams Discovery Plant in Paradis, Louisiana, about 30 miles southwest of New Orleans.
The 20-inch high-pressure pipeline is run by Phillips 66, a company which is invested in the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. The cause of the explosion is not yet known, but it resulted in the hospitalization of two workers—one of whom was transported to a burn center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Another three who were on-site suffered minor or no injuries. One worker, however, remains missing. St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne told The Advocate that they hoped the worker had “wandered off.” There is an ongoing search for him in the nearby area.
The fire continues to burn and could last another few days, the sheriff said in a press conference yesterday. “It’s not safe to go near it,” he said. The explosion prompted the evacuation of 60 homes with 11 people staying in a shelter that opened nearby, The Advocate reports. Two highways were closed.
PHOTO: The evacuated zone pic.twitter.com/NMwVLtx7y2— St. Charles Parish (@stcharlesgov) February 10, 2017
This accident comes as activists contest the Bayou Bridge pipeline in the region. Proposed by Energy Transfer Partners, the main developer behind the Dakota Access, Bayou Bridge would run 162 miles long, connecting refineries in Louisiana with Nederland, Texas.
Supporters and opponents of the Bayou Bridge pipeline clashed at a public Department of Natural Resources meeting on February 8 in Napoleonville, Louisiana, roughly 50 miles west of where last night’s blast occurred. Environmentalists are demanding an Environmental Impact Statement, The Advocate reports, while supporters argue construction will boost the economy.
Watch footage of the fire below.