A worker is feared to be dead following an explosion and fire at a pipeline station at Paradis in St Charles Parish, Louisiana. Josh Helms, of Thibodaux, Louisiana, described as an experienced pipeline worker, was one of six workers at the Phillips 66 operated station when the explosion occurred at about 7.00 pm on Thursday 9 February 2017; he has not been seen following the event, and it is now thought unlikely that he will be found alive. Two other workers were injured in the incident, one of who is still being treated in , though he is expected to make a full recovery. About 60 homes were evacuated following the event and a section of a local highway closed off. The fire was largely brought under control the following day, and people allowed to return to their homes, though it is still burning and part of the highway is still closed off.
Fire burning at a pipline station in Paradis, Louisiana, on 9 February 2017. Brett Duke/The Times-Picayune.
The workers are understood to have been undertaking routine cleaning work at the time of the explosion, the cause of which is still unknown. The pipeline is understood to have been carrying y-grade natural gas liquids (a light fraction obtained from crude oil which can be stored and transported as a liquid under pressure, but is likely to return to a gaseous state when released, comprising a mixture of propane, isobutane, pentane, hexane and other light hydrocarbons) from Venice in Plaquemines Parish, where hydrocarbons are pumped onshore from drilling stations in the Gulf of Mexico. The supply was shut off immediately after the explosion occurred, but due to the nature of the material it will be impossible to extinguish the fire completely until all the fuel in the pipeline has burned off.
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