In an update to events surrounding an explosion and fire that occurred at its Donaldsonville, La., facility late Wednesday night, CF Industries released information on the medical conditions of its four injured employees.
Three employees, Mike Gautreaux, Boyd Mahler and James Moses are all in critical condition with burns. The fourth employee, Leroy Sullivan is in serious condition with burns.
All four employees are being treated at the Baton Rouge General Medical Center.
"We have been advised that the next 72 hours are most critical for these types of injuries, and in all likelihood, their conditions will not be revised during this time period," said Louis Frey, operations manager for CF Industries'' Donaldsonville plant.
In addition to the injured CF employees, one contract worker with Catalyst Process Specialists was killed in the incident and five additional Catalyst Process Specialists workers were injured. Another contract worker employed by Turner Industrial Services was also injured.
CF Industries noted that some previous media accounts have indicated that the explosion happened as workers cleaned an empty mixing tank on-site.
"That is incorrect, and the investigation is underway to determine the exact cause of the incident," said Frey.
Meanwhile, state police are saying the fire and explosion that tore through the fertilizer plant was fueled by hydrogen and did so much damage that investigators were having trouble pinpointing the origin of the blast.
"Were they working on an operation vessel? Did they know it was being fueled by hydrogen and nitrogen? We really don''t know," said Lt. Mike Edmonson, a state police spokesman.
He said investigators are checking maintenance manifests to see what was being done and whether the tank being worked on was empty.
CF Industries manufactures ammonia and other nitrogen fertilizers at its Donaldsonville facility. The company is headquartered in Long Grove, Ill.
by Virginia Sutcliffe