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As Hurricane Laura batters Louisiana, massive chemical leak spews toxic smoke near Lake Charles

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Lake Charles, Louisiana Chemical Fire (Screen Grab)

“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.”

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.

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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.”

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

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