No injuries were reported Jan. 13 after an explosion and fire at a low density polyethylene resin unit operated by Sasol Ltd. in Lake Charles, La.
In a Jan. 14 news release, officials with Sasol, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, said that the fire was extinguished and all employees and contractors are safe and accounted for.
The new LDPE unit was in the final stages of commissioning and startup when the incident occurred at 1:15 p.m. on Jan. 13. The unit has been shut down and an investigation is underway to determine the cause of the incident, the extent of the damage and resulting impact on the LDPE unit's schedule, officials said.
A linear low density PE unit at the site as well as an ethane cracker and ethylene glycol/ethylene oxide unit are unaffected and are operating to plan. Three downstream units under construction making alcohols, alumina and alcohol ethoxylates are also unaffected.
Market sources said the LDPE unit, which launched production in July, has annual capacity of 925 million pounds. The Lake Charles complex is Sasol's first major North American project.
Major cost overruns in Lake Charles led to co-CEOs Bongani Nqwababa and Stephen Cornell leaving the company in October.