The worker missing after the Phillips 66 pipeline explosion in Paradis last Thursday is deceased and his body recovered from the scene, confirmed Louisiana State Police spokeswoman Melissa Matey Tuesday.
The worker’s identity was verified as Josh Helms of Thibodaux, a Phillips 66 employee who joined that company last November. Helms has been working as a pipeliner for the last eight years.
“We are grateful to all the agencies who responded to this unfortunate event and we thank them for their service,” said St. Charles Parish President Larry Cochran. “We are continuing to keep the families of both Mr. Helms and the injured employee in our thoughts and prayers. We are also keeping an open line of communication with Phillips 66.”
The explosion rocked the Paradis community at around 7 p.m. Thursday night while six employees were on the scene performing routine maintenance. The pipeline is located adjacent to Old Spanish Trail and extends from Venice to Paradis.
The fire burned until Monday morning, when responders were able to extinguish the fire at Paradis Pipeline Station. The pipeline remains shut down as the extent of the damage is evaluated and the cause of the fire is investigated.
Helms was unaccounted for in the immediate wake of the fire, as responders were not able to access the area closest to the fire to search for the employee. After the fire was extinguished Monday, the St. Charles Parish Coroner’s Office began an investigation.
Todd Denton, general manager of midstream operations for Phillips 66, said of the five other workers at the scene that two emerged from the accident without needing treatment, while two others were admitted to the hospital and subsequently released. The fifth was still hospitalized as of Saturday afternoon, but is expected to make a full recovery.
Ongoing air monitoring of the area indicates no health impacts to the surrounding community, according to Phillips 66 officials.
An evacuation order for six local homes was lifted Friday morning (Feb. 10) and residents were allowed to return home. During the evacuation, the Edward Dufresne Community Center in Luling had been opened as a shelter for the evacuees.
Phillips 66 has also established a community response line at (1-800) 766-6362.
The GreenARMY, and Louisiana Bucket Brigade, held a press conference Monday as they expressed their belief that the permits for the Bayou Bridge Pipeline should be denied based in part on the Paradis accident and questioned the safety of such pipelines as a whole.
“The pipeline that exploded was laid in the 50s and has never been replaced,” said Gen. Russel Honore' of the GreenARMY. “We have hundreds of miles of exposed pipeline that must be removed and upgraded. We should have no new pipelines until we have a law to clean up this mess.”
|By Anna Thibodeaux|