Chemical Safety Board probing Louisiana toxic air releases

By Sean Reilly | 04/05/2024 04:08 PM EDT

The federal board is looking into two 2023 releases, one at a Honeywell facility and another at a Dow Chemical site.

A Dow Chemical plant in Plaquemine, Louisiana.

A Dow Chemical plant in Plaquemine, Louisiana, in 2022. A federal safety board is investigating a 2023 release of ethylene oxide from the facility. Gerald Herbert/AP

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board says that it has launched inquiries into releases of hazardous pollutants last year at two Louisiana chemical plants.

In January 2023, an equipment failure at a Honeywell facility in Geismar led to an explosion and discharge of almost 2,600 pounds of chlorine and hydrogen fluoride, according to a board news release issued late Thursday. In July, a release of ethylene oxide, a carcinogen, occurred after a fire and explosion at a Dow Chemical operation in Plaquemine, Louisiana.

The board was notified of both incidents under its accidental release reporting rule. In a statement, board Chair Steve Owens said the agency now has time to look into “serious chemical incidents” disclosed under the rule after clearing a long-standing backlog of investigation reports.


While no one was seriously injured or killed, both accidents involved the release of highly toxic chemicals that could have put workers and nearby residents β€œat serious risk under different circumstances,” Owens said.