By some measures, chemical plants like the one where a fatal explosion happened Thursday in Louisiana are among the safest manufacturing workplaces in America.
But in the “chemical corridor” that lines the Mississippi River from New Orleans north to Baton Rouge, the density of the facilities keeps residents and emergency responders watchful.
Because of the volatile nature of many products made in the region, accidents, explosions and chemical releases are a real threat. Emergency officials say they’re well-drilled but residents do worry about what can happen at the plant next door.
State and local officials have welcomed oil refineries, chemical plants and related industries, with their heavy capital investments and good-paying jobs. Louisiana is experiencing a boom in new plants and expansions, driven in part by low natural gas prices.