Second fire within a year hits Louisiana complex

Axiall Corp.’s Lake Charles, La., chemicals complex is operating at reduced rates following a Dec. 20 fire that occurred in the vinyl chloride manufacturing area of the plant.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, and the company is working with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality as well as outside engineering firms to assess the damage to the structure and impact on production, Axiall said Dec. 22.

The remainder of the Lake Charles plant was unaffected by the fire, and production continues as normal in those areas, according to Axiall.

Formed by a merger of Georgia Gulf Corp. and the commodity chemicals business of PPG Industries, Pittsburgh, in January, Axiall already holds three manufacturing plants in Louisiana, two of which are in the Lake Charles area, with another in Plaquemine.

Prior to this year’s January merger, PPG, former owner of the Lake Charles complex (OGJ Online, Feb. 6, 1995), reported a fire in the vinyl chloride monomer unit of the plant on Dec. 24, 2012, which led to a subsequent force majeure for vinyl chloride and other liquids produced at the complex, according to a Dec. 27, 2012 release from PPG.

This latest fire at the Lake Charles plant occurred a day after Axiall’s Dec. 19 announcement that it has selected the state of Louisiana as the location for a possible $3 billion project, which, if approved, would include an ethylene cracker to be built and commissioned by 2018 (OGJ Online, Dec. 20, 2013).

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