The US Chemical Safety and Hazard Identification Board (CSB) published an update on the BioLab chemical plant fire in Westlake, LA that provides details on what CSB investigators have learned.
Emergency personnel were called to the BioLab chemical production facility in Westlake, LA last Thursday after damages from Hurricane Laura caused a chlorine leak at the site. The Louisiana State Police said a smoldering blaze ignited at the site following the leak, leading officials to issue a shelter-in-place order for those within a one-mile radius of the plant.
CSB investigators responded to the site on Saturday and conducted a perimeter tour to assess damages. So far, officials have been unable to access the area of the plant where the fire started.
Officials learned that BioLab started to shut down the plant in advance of the storm on August 24 and completed the process on August 25. A nine-person “ride out” crew evacuated the plant on the morning of August 26. The “ride out” crew returned to the Westlake plant on August 27 and found flames at 7:48 am.
The plant produces pool and spa treatment products. When the storm made landfall, the plant was storing 835 tn of trichloroisocyanuric acid (tri-chlor).
CSB investigators plan to return to the BioLab plant to continue conducting its investigation. In the meantime, the agency said it will collect essential facts, issue document requests, and identify key personnel members to interview.