LEPC to invite Axiall to discuss blast

By By Frank DiCesare / American Press

Officials from the Local Emergency Planning Committee will invite Axiall executives to Lake Charles next month to discuss the explosion and fire that occurred at the company’s Westlake plant just days before Christmas.

Dick Gremillion, LEPC secretary and treasurer, said a formal letter will be sent to Axiall this week, inviting the company’s key executives to the committee’s Feb. 18 meeting, which will be opened to the public. Gremillion, who also serves as director of the Calcasieu Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said the meeting will be held at held OHSEP’s office on Lakeshore Drive in Lake Charles. 

If public attendance becomes too much for OHSEP’s meeting room, Gremillion added, the event may be moved to the Police Jury’s meeting room.

LEPC Vice Chairman Gerald Pullin said he wants to give Axiall time to finish its investigation on the incident. 

“I don’t know what their status is, but sometimes these investigations and engineering evaluations take a little time,” Pullin said. “We need to give them time to get their information before they come before us.”

Axaill officials have hired their own independent consultant to calculate the amount of toxic chemicals that were released into the atmosphere as a result of the Dec. 20 blast. The company’s Unauthorized Discharge Notification Report, which was sent to the state’s Department of Environmental Quality on Dec. 26, listed hydrochloric acid, ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride monomer as the chemicals that were “released as a result of the unauthorized discharge.” 

The incident sent 27 people to area hospitals. Axiall’s report stated that there were no injuries to facility personnel.