Explosion reminds state that plants not always safe

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, and all the facilities on Interstate 10 from there through the Golden Triangle in Texas, 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.