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Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS -- Tuesday's gas line blast in Washington Parish is Louisiana's third petro-chemical related explosion and fire in less than a week.

Last Thursday an explosion and fire at Williams Olefins in Geismar killed two workers and injured dozens of others. Friday night, a container explosion at CF Industries in Donaldsonville killed one worker.

'I would think that one, two, three wakeup calls in a week should really sound the alarm,' said Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) Executive Director Mary Lee Orr.

LEAN has been sounding the alarm in the state's petro chemical corridor for years.

'There are a lot of good facilities that are along the river and along the corridor in different parts of Louisiana, but I think there are a few that are really not good neighbors,' said Orr.

Ron Perry is the Emergency Preparedness Director in St. Charles Parish, one of the state's most industrialized regions.

'I live in a community that has two major refineries on one side and a chemical plant on the other side, in close proximity to where I live,' said Perry. 'I have a vested interest in their safety. I feel very comfortable a resident of St. Charles Parish in the safe operation of these plants.'

Emergency managers say with hundreds of millions of dollars tied up in plant infrastructure, industry not only has a public obligation to maintain a safe operation, but a strong financial incentive as well.

'It is they who have the most at risk,' said Perry. 'So, they have a vested interest in operating as safely as possible.'

There are billions of dollars in plant expansions and new manufacturing facilities in the pipeline between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

'The future of Louisiana is undoubtedly going to have a strong industrial base,' said GNO, Inc President and CEO Michael Hecht. 'We have to do it in a way that maximizes jobs and value, but also protects life and property. We have to balance those two things going forward.'

'We can't lose human life to get products to other parts of the country,' said Orr.

'They're going to be challenges, but the good news is if you look at folks we brought here recently like Nucor, they're generally outstanding companies and they're able to work with the public and have them get comfortable with the idea that they do things in the right way,' said Hecht.

All parties agree the recent rash of industrial accidents needs to be investigated and lesson learned implemented across the board.

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