New Orleans May 04, 2016
by Kezia Kamenetz On This Day in 1988, The Unthinkable Happened Near New Orleans
In the middle of the night on May 5th, 1988, an explosion at the Shell Plant in Diamond, LA, killed seven Shell workers, destroyed homes in the community, and allowed for well over 150 million pounds of pollution and waste into the air.
The explosion happened at 3:37 a.m., when few workers were present in the plant. This prevented the death toll from rising even higher. It was caused by an issue present in an 8-inch vapor line.
The blast from the explosion could be heard for up to 25 miles, including in New Orleans. Fire burned for over 8 hours in the refinery before it could be stopped.
Seven shell workers were killed in the explosion and 48 residents were injured in the blast. Their lives are remembered and cherished here.
Residents of Norco and Diamond continued to struggle with Shell after diseases and illnesses struck the communities following the release of so many toxic chemicals in the blast. In 2002, they won a victory with the company, who created a program for them to relocate themselves out of the way of the pollution. Now, there is little left of what was once the community of Diamond.
In Loving Remembrance:
For an up-close glimpse of what happened that day, watch this incredible video detailing the event.
Were you a part of this community on that day or do you remember what it was like when this explosion happened? Let us know what it was like for you in the comments. We love to hear your feedback.
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