Baton Rouge, LA Explosion At Standard Oil, Aug 1951



Baton Rouge, La. - (U.P.) - A thunderous gasoline explosion killed two men and injured 10 and wrecked three 37,000 gallon tanks and two distillate treating units at Standard Oil of New Jersey's North Baton Rouge Refinery today.
The explosion was so violent it shattered plate glass window glass three miles away and blew railroad boxcars and tank cars off their tracks. The fire was controlled in two hours and 45 minutes, but firemen kept pouring Mississippi River waters so there would be no chance of its spreading.
The two victims were J. E. CARMENA and ALFRED PERRY, both Standard employees, W. B. Cotton, Jr., Public Relations Director for the refinery, said. Seven Standard employees were hurt, two seriously, in addition to three Illinois Central Railroad trainmen.
It was not immediately determined what caused the explosion. Walter Cunningham, executive general agent for the I. C. Railroad, said an unidentified trainman told him he saw a flash of light - like lightning - and then heard a "noise like thunder." But the weather was completely clear at the time.
The explosion blew a column of smoke hundreds of feet into the air. Wind currents later weighted it down until the air was blue over half of Baton Rouge. The refinery is about five miles north of the main part of the city.
One of the most important concentrations of war industry in the country lies in that area. It includes the Standard Oil plant, which employees 9,000 persons and is one of the largest in the world, two artificial rubber plants, a plant that makes sodium and soda ash, a plant that is said to make 70 per cent of the world supply of tethraethyl lead, and an aluminum refinery.
Cotton said there were 15,000 to 20,000 gallons of nearly refined gasoline in each of the burning tanks.
The refinery did not shut down because of the explosion. Workmen reported on their regular shifts in operations other than those around the burning tanks.

The Anniston Star Alabama 1951-08-16