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Louisiana’s Plants and Refineries Experience Growing Number of Confirmed Coronavirus Cases

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Louisiana’s vital chemical industry is being hard-hit by the novel coronavirus, where a growing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has already resulted in one plant closure and workforce reductions at others.

Bayer Luling Plant Closed Following Contractor’s Death

On Monday, Bayer Crop Sciences announced it would be closing its Luling facility following the March 18th death of a contract worker from respiratory illness. His death has since been attributed to COVID-19.

According to The Advocate, the contractor was last onsite March 5th and reportedly asymptomatic at the time. Health officials have been in touch with his known contacts at the Luling plant and are “identifying next steps.”

“Given the widespread nature of this pandemic, we have been preparing for this possibility for some time,” a Bayer statement said.

BASF Geismar and Dow Chemical Among Plants with Confirmed Coronavirus

Dow Chemical confirmed its first case of novel coronavirus earlier this month, when an employee at its plant in Iberville Parish tested positive. Since Monday, three contractors at the Dow Chemical plant in Plaquemine have also tested positive.

Five additional cases among Louisiana plant workers were confirmed this week, including four (two employees and two contractors) at the BASF Geismer Plant in Iberville and one at the Denka Performance Elastomer plant in LaPlace.

According to The Advocate, Denka and BASF also have a handful of other employees in precautionary self-quarantines.

Louisiana Chemical Plants Deemed Essential

With more than 2,300 cases confirmed statewide, Louisiana currently has the fastest growing COVID-19 outbreak in the world. Although Governor John Bel Edwards has ordered most residents to remain in their homes until at least April 12th, Louisiana’s chemical industry is deemed essential.

Plant officials across the state say they are working to tighten safety controls and limit activity to critical personnel. While none of the facilities contacted by The Advocate are using “lock up” or “lockout” procedures, all said they are taking steps to prevent transmission of the potentially deadly virus.

About 45% of BASF employees are working from home, and contract work has been reduced by more than 47% at the Geismar plant. In addition to restricting entry, the facility is also checking workers’ temperatures, promoting social distancing practices, and disinfecting buses and work areas.

Reduced demand for oil has forced staffing and production cutbacks at the ExxonMobil refinery in Baton Rouge. While the company hasn’t commented on those reductions, sources told Reuters that 1,800 contractors – about 90% of the facility’s usual force – have been sent home. Production has reportedly fallen by 70,000 barrels per day.

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Our Undefeated Plant Accident Lawyers understand how devastating this unprecedented crisis has been for workers and families in Louisiana, Texas, and across the United States, and will continue to provide updates as the situation develops.

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