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Chlorine Plant Fire Continues To Smolder In Westlake, Hampering Hurricane Recovery

Bill Feig/AP Photo/POOL
Plant fire in Westlake due to Hurricane Laura damage Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, near Lake Charles, La.

A fire at a chlorine plant in Westlake, near Lake Charles, continues to smolder Friday after Hurricane Laura tore through the area.

Officials with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) said the state learned about the fire at the BioLab Inc. plant Thursday morning. The plant makes chlorine for swimming pools.

The Lake Charles Fire Department was able to extinguish one of two fires at the plant, but continues to pump water onto a second fire smoldering in a warehouse. They have also closed all outfall canals in the area to prevent the spread of firewater.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said the smoke could be dangerous to breathe. Shelter-in-place orders are in effect for the 1-mile area around the plant. 

Officials with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness said people should stay indoors and keep the air conditioning off.

Greg Langley, a spokesman for LDEQ, said air monitoring is underway, but readings do not indicate the air is excessively dangerous to breathe.

Interstate 10 remains closed in both directions, complicating recovery efforts in the area.

BioLab Inc. has brought in trained workers to remove bags of product from the warehouse.

Tegan has reported on the coast for WWNO since 2015. In this role she has covered a wide range of issues and subjects related to coastal land loss, coastal restoration, and the culture and economy of Louisiana’s coastal zone, with a focus on solutions and the human dimensions of climate change. Her reporting has been aired nationally on Planet Money, Reveal, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Marketplace, BBC, CBC and other outlets. She’s a recipient of the Pulitzer Connected Coastlines grant, CUNY Resilience Fellowship, Metcalf Fellowship, and countless national and regional awards.

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