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Not that there should be tighter oversight of the Louisiana chemical industry or anything, but there were fatal blasts at two different Louisiana chemical plants last week. Thursday's explosion at the Williams Olefin plant killed two and injured more than 100, while Friday's rupture (not an explosion, executives insist) at a CF Industries plant killed one and injured eight. So, what kind of safety records did these plants have leading up to last week?

We don't actually know about the Williams Olefin plant; according to Erik Loomis:

The last time this plant received an OSHA inspection? We actually don’t know. But definitely not since 1993. And this is one of the most dangerous industries in the country. Petrochemical plants should be inspected at least a few times a year, if not weekly. Instead, not even once in 20 years.
This is a government oversight fail that should feel familiar from April's fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. As for Friday's totally-not-an-explosion-just-a-rupture,
Friday’s deadly blast wasn’t the first at the company’s Donaldsonville plant. The Associated Press reported that three workers were killed and nine injured by an explosion and fire at the facility in May 2000.

Later that year, OSHA imposed a fine of nearly $150,000 against CF Industries, AP said. OSHA cited the company for 14 alleged safety and health violations, 12 of which were described by the agency as serious. The company didn’t contest the citations and agreed to pay the penalties.

All of this is happening in a state where it would take OSHA more than 150 years to inspect every workplace once, and where the workplace fatality rate is 6.3 per 100,000 workers, compared with a national rate of 3.5 per 100,000. Oh, and also, the two plants are close by each other in an area filled with such facilities and called "Cancer Alley" or "Bhopal on the bayou," which should give you some idea of how well health and safety are being protected there.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 09:06 AM PDT.

Also republished by Louisiana Kossacks, In Support of Labor and Unions, and Daily Kos.

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