Worker Missing in Louisiana Pipeline Explosion Assumed Dead

By Yessenia Funes Feb 13, 2017

A natural gas pipeline owned by Phillips 66 exploded outside Paradis, Louisiana on February 9. One worker went missing, and this weekend, on February 11, authorities declared him dead. 

Josh Helms lived in Thibodaux, Louisiana and joined the company in November 2016. He had been working as a pipeliner for the last eight years, the company said. “Our deepest sympathies go out to Josh’s family, friends and coworkers,” the statement read. Another worker remains hospitalized but should make a full recovery.

The explosion’s cause remains unknown, but responders were able to put out the fire near the Williams Discovery Plant today (February 13)—four days after it began—and have now launched a formal investigation.

Phillips 66 is an investor for the Dakota Access Pipeline—and for the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline, a 160-mile crude oil pipeline that would run through 11 parishes in Louisiana. 

Activists in the area have used this incident to highlight the dangers that come with pipelines transporting fossil fuels. They have also focused attention on the people who work on these projects. Oil and gas industry workers suffer a fatality rate seven times higher than that of all other industries, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.