White haze over BC caused by nitrogen, not smoke from fireAug 27th, 2012 | By Jessica Gonzalez | Category: news
Louisiana State Police have confirmed that the white haze seen throughout Belle Chasse on August 17 was the result of nitrogen used to destabilize a tank full of
divinylbenzine at Sun Drilling Co., not smoke from a fire as initially thought by many residents.
No divinylbenzine was released.
“We’re still looking at the cause for the tank expanding— it could be a lightning strike— because the divinylbenzine became unstable in the tank, the initial fear was that it would rupture out of the tank,” said Louisiana State Police PIO Nick Manale. “No chemical was ever exposed.”
Manale said evacuations were called because of the initial threat of exposure should the tank have ruptured. Initial crews pumped nitrogen into the tank as a destabilizing agent, causing the white haze, but soon found that the nitrogen was not effective.
“The company [Sun Drilling Co.] had to bring in another destabilizer from Baton Rouge, and had to slowly pump the chemical into the tank, which is why evacuation orders weren’t lifted until 10 a.m. Saturday morning,” Manale stated.
“It’s a slow process because the lines are highly pressurized.”
Residents in the surrounding neighborhood, in the vicinity of the Main Street/Hwy 23 intersection, were given shelter at the Belle Chasse Civic Auditorium.
Governmental offices at the Annex Building, Sheriff’s Office and Council Office were cleared of employees.
Belle Chasse Primary School students were kept inside until dismissal. The intersection of Woodland Highway and F. Edward Hebert Blvd, which has been closed for road work, was reopened to help facilitate the release of the students.
One resident of Evangeline Trace, a subdivision within the evacuation zone, remarked that on August 17, 1969, 43 years ago, she was a resident of Buras evacuating to Belle Chasse for Hurricane Camille. This year, now a resident of Belle Chasse, she evacuated to Buras on the same day to stay with her son for the night.