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Axiall refinery fire: Curious case of ‘reverse reporting,’ media hush-hush?

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Curiouser and curiouser!

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What’s curious is the way this story about the Axiall refinery fire is rapidly disappearing from news sites – ping, ping, ping – and only hours after it happened. The only follow-up on the fire, you know, the cause, injuries, etc. seems to be "Highway I-10 in Lake Charles is open after plant fire on Friday, Dec 20, 2013."

But even if the media isn't saying much, the pictures of the fire speak volumes - this was a serious event.

Here’s a summary of the story told on Friday:

At about 1:30 Friday afternoon in Lake Charles, Louisiana, a fire at the PHH unit of the Axiall refinery billowed thick black smoke into the air, forcing closure of Interstate 10, as well as evacuations and a shelter in place. (Isn’t that an oxymoron – evacuate and shelter in place?) Company spokesperson Patricia Prebula said there was a fire at a furnace that holds vinyl chloride and hydrochloric acid.

Mike Sowell, an employee at Drago, a company just outside the Axiall refinery said, "We just saw the black smoke . . . right there at the plant. As it got up there a little bit higher, it was real thick and dark gray, and I guess because of the humidity, the smoke wasn't going up. It was just laying low. It was thick like that for about 30 minutes. . . "

Even though the fire broke out around 1:30 p.m., the shelter-in-place wasn’t issued until a little after 2 p.m. The fire was out about an hour later (around 2:38 p.m.), but the thick black noxious smoke hovered close to the ground and covered the area for more than an hour. At least 12 drivers were treated at a local hospital for respiratory problems.

Sowell added, "Heard the sirens and the announcements, but couldn't make anything out of the announcements, so we're just sitting here to see what happens."

So much for the “shelter-in-place” warning.

According to Wikipedia, a "shelter in place" involves the use of a structure and its indoor atmosphere to temporarily separate individuals from a hazardous outdoor atmosphere. It entails closing all doors, windows and vents and trying to make it as airtight as possible.

Then, it seems, a media hush-hush began, as one by one, news sites that originally carried the news, like those that follow, dropped all references to the Axiall refinery fire – WFXG Fox54 Augusta,WAFB9, MS News NOW WLBT WDBD, 12 KSLA, 12,, and Fox6 WBRC to name a few.

The story has vanished from their sites within hours of the incident without any followup. In any case, all of the media outlets above offered the same “apology”:

Our Apologies
The page you requested is currently unavailable. Pages on this site are constantly being revised, updated, and occasionally removed. You may have followed an outdated link or have outdated pages in your browser cache. Please use your browser's BACK button to return to the previous page. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Why did most of these articles disappear so suddenly from the new media? Could their disappearance have something to do with the fact that refinery fires are happening so frequently now around the world that it's hard to keep count?

Are the oil companies controlling the news media? Is that why this story is "silently vanishing"? Curiouser and curiouser!



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