Emergency units responded to a chemical leak and fire at the Marathon Petroleum refinery in Garyville, Louisiana.

After a release of naphtha, a flammable liquid that can be used as fuel, authorities evacuated people living and working within a two-mile radius of the refinery.

Nola reports the fire started around 7 a.m. and sent a massive black plume of smoke high into the sky.



“The release and fire are contained within the refinery’s property and there have been no injuries,” Marathon Petroleum said in a statement.

The evacuation order was eventually lifted around 2 p.m.

Nola.com reports:

The evacuation order was lifted just after 2 p.m., parish officials said. The fire, which affected two tanks, was under control by then, according to Marathon officials.

The burning material was naphtha, a liquid hydrocarbon mixture used as a component to make gasoline, Marathon spokesperson Justin Lawrence said. Naphtha is considered hazardous by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration because it is extremely flammable, irritating to the eyes and respiratory system and harmful or fatal if swallowed.

By midday, parents had lined up to pick up their kids at East St. John High School in nearby Reserve. The school is outside the evacuation zone, but some parents who live within it had to leave. Riverside Academy students were evacuated there as well, while Garyville Magnet school students were taken to Lake Pontchartrain school.

WDSU provided the full statement from Marathon Petroleum:

“Marathon Petroleum personnel and local emergency responders are currently responding to a naphtha release and fire at a storage tank at the company’s Garyville, Louisiana, refinery. The release and fire are contained within the refinery’s property and there have been no injuries. As a precaution, air monitoring has been deployed in the community. No off-site impacts have been detected.

“All regulatory notifications have been made. As always, our main priority is to ensure the safety of our employees and contractors, our neighbors within our surrounding community, first responders, and to limit environmental impact. An investigation will be conducted to determine the cause of the release.”

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