Deadly fertilizer plant explosion in Louisiana

Published online: Jun 19, 2013
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An explosion at CF Industries in Donaldsonville, La., Friday evening killed one person and injured several people.

A nitrogen vessel burst at the plant just after 6:15 p.m. Friday evening, said Lou Frey, vice president and general manager of CF's Donaldsonville Nitrogen Complex.

The incident involved the rupture of a nitrogen distribution header during the off-loading of nitrogen in a section of the plant that had been shut down for maintenance. There was no fire or chemical release nor was there any threat or hazard posed to the community.

Ronald "Rocky" Morris, a 55-year-old Belle Rose resident, died in the blast at CF Industries in Donaldsonville, officials said. He had been a long-term employee with the company and had worked there for 34 years.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected and their families," said Frey. "Our employees are our greatest asset, and their safety is our highest priority. CF Industries has activated an Employee Assistance Program for our employees and their families to assist them in this difficult time."

Following the incident, four CF Industries employees and three contract employees were sent to local hospitals for treatment, according to a statement from CF Industries. As of Saturday, the company reported that one CF employee remains hospitalized in stable condition. All others have been treated and released.

CF Industries is investigating the cause of the incident and continues to cooperate with local and regulatory agencies throughout the process.

CF Industries manufactures ammonia and other nitrogen fertilizers at its Donaldsonville facility.

This plant also had an explosion in May 2000 during routine maintenance in one of the four ammonia plants on the site. That explosion killed three and injured eight more, according to reports from The Times-Picayune. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the company nearly $150,000 for the incident.