Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

The chemical leak broke out near Lake Charles, Louisiana after Hurricane Laura tore through the area on Thursday, August 27, 2020. (Photo: RadarOmega/Twitter Screengrab)

As Hurricane Laura Batters Louisiana, Massive Chemical Leak Spews Toxic Smoke Near Lake Charles

"We knew this would happen. Lake Charles and Cameron Parish are petrochemical industry epicenters. The plants, export terminals, refineries, oil tank farms are ticking time bombs every hurricane season."

Jake Johnson, staff writer

This is a developing news story... Check back for possible updates...

After Hurricane Laura tore through the area Thursday morning, a chemical leak broke out at a plant near Lake Charles, Louisiana, leading authorities to warn residents against traveling through the affected region as dark smoke flowed out of an industrial building and over Interstate 10.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards tweeted that "there is a chemical fire in the Westlake/Moss Bluff/Sulphur area. Residents are advised to shelter in place until further notice and close your doors and windows. Follow the directions of local officials."

"If you are in the Westlake/Moss Bluff/Sulphur area, shelter in place, close your windows and doors and TURN OFF YOUR AIR CONDITIONING UNITS," the governor added. "There is a chemical fire. Stay inside and wait for additional direction from local officials."

The local Daily Advertiser reported that a "possible chlorine leak" caused a fire at an industrial plant but authorities have not yet confirmed any details of what sparked the incident, which comes after activists warned of the "environmental nightmare" that could result from the hurricane slamming a region with a high concentration of chemical and fossil fuel plants and infrastructure.

"Facilities like this have been poisoning Gulf communities for decades," tweeted environmentalist Rob Friedman. "During and after storms, who knows how much toxic pollution they're emitting."

"We knew this would happen," said another activist. "Lake Charles and Cameron Parish are petrochemical industry epicenters. The plants, export terminals, refineries, oil tank farms are ticking time bombs every hurricane season. Industry only sees money, not environmental impact, and our leaders are in their pockets."

Images and videos of the leak circulated widely on social media:


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

Summit Participants Embrace 'Vaccine Internationalism' to End Pandemic

"Our goal is simple: to end the pandemic as quickly as possible by securing Covid-19 vaccines for all," says the coordinator of Progressive International's four-day virtual summit.

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·


As Iran Elects New President, Experts Urge Biden to Rejoin Nuclear Deal, Lift Sanctions

"The Biden administration must remain resolute and seek a break from the disastrous conditions that helped contribute to this result."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·


UN General Assembly Condemns Myanmar Junta Violence, Urges Arms Embargo

Member nations voted 119-1 in favor of the resolution, which also calls for a return to the country's fragile democracy.

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·


Dems Introduce Abolition Amendment to Scrap Constitution's 'Slavery Clause'

"The loophole in our Constitution's ban on slavery not only allowed slavery to continue, but launched an era of discrimination and mass incarceration that continues to this day," said Sen. Jeff Merkley.

Julia Conley, staff writer ·


'Surreal' and 'Distressing': Climate Experts' Predictions Come True With US Heatwave

"The current heatwave and drought leave no doubt, we are living the dangerous effects of the climate crisis."

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·