Chemical Leak at Houston Plant; 2 Dead and 30 Injured

September 8, 2021 | Michael S. Callahan
Photo From: CNN

On July 27, sections of the LyondellBasell plant were closed for maintenance when a cap burst on a pressurized line. The line, carrying acetic acid, spewed a vapor cloud of the toxic substance. The exposure caused by this chemical leak killed two workers and hospitalized more than 30. The victims of this chemical leak were 36-year-old Dustin Day and 32-year-old Shawn Kuhleman, both contract workers.

During the leak, an estimated 100,000 pounds of acetic acid was released. Acetic acid is a clear liquid that is extremely dangerous. If ingested, it can cause burning, stomach pain, vomiting, and other serious issues, while topical exposure burns the skin. The acid in the pressurized line was reported to have been mixed with other dangerous compounds, such as methyl iodide, which can cause fluid buildup in the lungs. 

Most of the 30 workers who were hospitalized were treated for respiratory issues caused by breathing in the toxins, though several were also treated for burn injuries. In a statement made on July 28, the company stated that 24 of the 30 workers who were hospitalized were treated and had since been released, and that the company is “continuing to monitor the conditions” of the remaining individuals who are hospitalized.

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board stated they were sending a team of experts to the LyondellBasell plant to investigate the circumstances of the leak and assess the plant. The facility was partially shut down for planned maintenance when the chemical leak occurred. Representatives for the company stated that the cause of the incident is still being investigated.

However, recent reports have revealed that this tragic accident could have been prevented. According to the Houston Chronicle, regulators at the LyondellBasell acetyls unit found consistent “high priority” violations of the Clean Air Act occurring consistently over the past three years, as well as violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act –which regulates how hazardous waste is created, transported, and disposed of—in 2020.

LyondellBasell has seen a string of incidents at various facilities throughout the last couple of months alone. In Sulphur, Louisiana, a power outage occurred on July 13th, causing thick black smoke to surround the nearby areas. Days later, the Galena Park refinery experienced a chemical leak that gave residents in the surrounding areas headaches and nausea. 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a chemical leak, explosion, or another workplace incident, contact our Workplace Injury Attorneys today. We have a history of representing injured workers and their families, and we can fight for you too. Call us at 713-224-9000, or fill out our contact form here.

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After a serious accident, your focus should be on your health and your family. Let our attorneys handle everything else. Contact The Callahan Law Firm now for a free review of your case. Our attorneys are here to answer your questions and explain your legal options.