A section of Garyville, Louisiana, was under a mandatory evacuation order for serval hours on Friday after a chemical leak ignited a massive fire at the nearby Marathon Oil Refinery.
Marathon Refinery Fire Ignited Near Naptha Leak
Emergency personnel from St. John the Baptist Parsh were called to the Marathon refinery, located at 4663 W Airline Highway about 40 miles west of New Orleans, shortly before 7:00 a.m. on August 25th. According to refinery officials, the fire erupted near a storage tank leaking naphtha.
“Initially, it was kind of a lazy flame,” Marathon spokesperson Justin Lawrence said during a press conference on Friday. “We put foam on it to keep it contained, but as the day gets hotter, it reignited in spots that are harder to control.”
While the spill and the fire were confined within the refinery’s property, large plumes of heavy, black smoke could be seen rising from the plant. About 50 personnel from the New Orleans region, other refineries, and nearby parishes were called to assist with fire suppression efforts.
Mandatory Evacuation Ordered for 2-Mile Radius of Marathon Refinery
Naphtha is a highly flammable chemical used to manufacture gasoline that contains benzene, a known carcinogen. Depending on the concentration and duration of exposure, inhaling naphtha vapors can irritate the nose, throat, and lungs and cause dizziness and other signs and symptoms of central nervous system depression. Long-term exposure has been linked to kidney and liver damage, anemia, other blood disorders, and leukemia.
The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality deployed air monitors in the community adjacent to the Marathon refinery. According to a spokesperson, all readings were “non-detect” as of Friday afternoon.
Nevertheless, Garyville residents within a two-mile radius of the Marathon refinery were ordered to evacuate the area for several hours yesterday. The mandatory evacuation zone also included nearby port facilities and two schools, Garyville/Mt. Airy Math & Science Magnet School and Riverside Academy. Three other schools – East St. John Preparatory Academy, Fith Ward Elementary School, and East St. John High School Wildcats – were under shelter-in-place orders.
Parish authorities lifted the mandatory evacuation shortly before 2:30 p.m., not long after officials at the scene declared the fire contained.
“I think residents should take any precautions that they feel necessary for their personal situations,” St John Parish President Jaclyn Hotard told reporters. “We have been assured that in that two-mile radius, the concern is for the smoke plume that is moving as a result of this fire. We have been assured that the radius is a safe area.”
Fire Was 4th at Marathon Garyville Refinery Since 2020
The Marathon Garyville refinery has a capacity of 578,000 BPD, making it the third-largest crude oil refinery in the nation and a major supplier of gasoline, diesel, and other fuels.
Unfortunately, Friday’s fire was only the latest serious incident involving the facility.
The most recent occurred in October 2022, when two workers were treated for unspecified injuries in another fire. The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) later fined the Marathon refinery more than $15,600 for a serious violation of workplace safety standards.
Eight months earlier, in February 2022, four contractors were hospitalized for injuries sustained when an explosion ignited a fire in the refinery’s 110,000-BPD gas oil hydrocracker where diesel is manufactured. OSHA hit the facility with fines totaling $14,502 following that incident.
According to 4WWL, Marathon also reported a small fire on a line in 2020 that the company’s in-house firefighters quickly extinguished.
“We spent a period of time researching refinery accidents in this state, and for a ten-year period, Marathon was one of the leaders in the state as far as accidents are concerned,” Anne Rolfes, Executive Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade told 4WWL. “So, you know, the facility has been a problem for a long time.”
What to Do If You Were Affected by the Marathon Garyville Refinery Fire
So far, no injuries have been reported in connection with this latest fire at the Marathon refinery in Garyville. However, a firefighter was evaluated for heat stress after battling the blaze in triple-digit temperatures.
If you or a loved one are ever injured in connection with a refinery explosion or any other industrial disaster, it’s critical to understand that you can’t rely on the refinery operator to take care of you, no matter what they might promise. Unless you act quickly to preserve your rights and protect your family’s future, you’re unlikely to receive anything close to full and fair compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering:
- If the explosion or fire involved your workplace, promptly inform your employer of your injuries and seek immediate medical attention, even if you don’t think they were serious.
- Document every detail you can recall, including the names and contact information of any witnesses.
- Preserve all evidence in your possession, including the clothing worn during the incident. Do not clean or wash anything, and securely seal all items in clean plastic bags.
- Take photos or video of any property damage you sustained due to the explosion or fire.
- If you were ordered to evacuate, save receipts of any expenses you incurred due to the evacuation.
- Refrain from providing a recorded statement to the company’s insurance carrier, no matter how much pressure they apply.
- Avoid signing any documents or accepting payments from the company or its insurer other than your regular paycheck.
- Limit discussions about the explosion or injuries to your spouse and attorney. Do not post any information related to the incident on social media.
- Insist on receiving medical care from the healthcare provider of your choice, follow all medical advice, and attend all follow-up appointments related to your injuries.
- Preserve any medical bills or receipts for co-pays and prescriptions related to your injuries.
- Consult an explosion attorney with a proven history of success
If you live or work near the Marathon refinery in Garyville, be sure to get checked out at the emergency room or urgent care if you experience any symptoms associated with naphtha exposure, including severe fatigue, dizziness, breathing problems, nose bleeds, eye irritation, headaches, and vomiting.
In the aftermath of an incident like the Marathon Garyville refinery fire, it’s not unusual for a company to establish a claims process to compensate impacted residents. However, it’s essential to understand that such programs almost always require participants to surrender their rights to file a lawsuit in the future, even if they later develop cancer, chronic respiratory distress, or any other serious (or even fatal) conditions related to their toxic exposure.
Before you agree to participate in any claims process established in connection with the Marathon refinery fire, it’s in your best interest to speak with an experienced attorney to ensure your legal rights are preserved.
Call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here for a Free Consult with Our Undefeated Refinery Explosion Lawyers.
We are monitoring developments related to the Marathon refinery fire in Garyville and will post an update if new information becomes available.
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