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Explosion at Marathon Petroleum plant in St. John Parish, officials say; 1 injury reported

Marathon Petroleum refinery in Garyville, Louisiana.
Halle Parker
Marathon Petroleum refinery in Garyville, Louisiana.

Emergency officials are responding to an explosion that occurred at Marathon Petroleum’s Garyville Refinery on Monday morning in St. John the Baptist Parish.

A fire was reported at the facility at about 9:30 a.m., a Marathon statement said, and a portion of the refinery was under a shelter-in-place order, according to Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality spokesperson Greg Langley. The fire was under control as of late Monday morning.

Jamal Kheiry, spokesperson for Marathon Petroleum, said a contract worker was injured during the incident and was "being evaluated at a local healthcare facility as a precaution." All other employees were accounted for, officials said.

Officials have not yet released information on a cause of the blaze, but LDEQ's response team was headed to the facility at about 11 a.m.

Marathon was also conducting air monitoring, Langley said.

The St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office said the stretch of West Airline Drive near the intersection of Marathon Avenue were closed until about 10:45 a.m., when officials gave the all-clear for the area, according to multiple reports.

St. John Sheriff Mike Tegre told the Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate that there were no offsite impacts or deaths as of 10 a.m.

Laplace resident C.J. Boyle said she was working from home when her house started to shake at about 9 a.m.

“It felt like something literally hit my house,” she said Monday morning. “I knew it was an explosion right away, but I didn't know how far away it would have been."

This was the first time she’d felt such an explosion, and wondered if a plane had crashed nearby. She wouldn’t have guessed it came from the refinery.

Officials haven’t advised residents to leave the area, and Boyle said she plans to stay in place.

Located in the River Parishes in a stretch of industrial area dubbed "Cancer Alley," the Garyville refinery has a crude oil refining capacity of 578,000 barrels per day. The Louisiana facility is also one of the largest refineries in the country.

This is a developing story. Check back with WWNO for updates.

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