Monday, August 2, 2021

C&EN: Texas and Germany plant accidents kill workers

From this week's C&EN, two articles (by Cheryl Hogue and Alex Scott): 
Two workers are dead and two remain hospitalized after a pipe with pressurized acetic acid burst July 27 at a LyondellBasell plant in La Porte, Texas.

First responders helped 31 surviving workers undergo decontamination, Harris County Fire Marshal Laurie L. Christensen told reporters shortly after the accident. LyondellBasell says 30 workers were transported to the hospital for medical evaluation. Of these, 28 had been treated and released as of late July 28.

Hours before the incident, workers shut down the acetyls unit at the plant for planned maintenance, LyondellBasell says in a statement. About 7:35 p.m., a cap burst on a pressurized line of acetic acid, forming a chemical vapor cloud, a spokesperson for the Harris County Pollution Control Services Department tells C&EN. The vaporized acetic acid caused most of the injuries, the spokesperson says.

The two workers killed at the scene were contract employees, LyondellBasell says. They are Dustin Don Day, 36, and Shawn Andrew Kuhleman, 32, according to the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.

The pressurized line spewed a mixture of acetic acid, catalyst, hydrogen iodide, and methyl iodide, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) says in an emailed statement. LyondellBasell says the accident released about 45,000 kg of this mixture, which consisted primarily of acetic acid...

Also, this bad news: 

Two employees were killed and 31 were injured after an explosion on Tuesday morning at Chempark’s chemical complex in Leverkusen, Germany. Five more people are missing. The complex is a major manufacturing hub for Bayer, Lanxess, and about 30 other companies.

The explosion occurred in a tank containing solvents in the complex’s waste-management center, which features a sewage system, a landfill, and an incinerator. Organic solvents are stored in containers at the center before being incinerated.

“The search for the missing is still going on at full speed. Unfortunately, the hope of finding them alive is dwindling,” Lars Friedrich, manager of the complex, says in a statement.

It is the worst chemical industry accident in Germany since 2016, when three maintenance workers died while working on pipelines at BASF’s site in Ludwigshafen. 

Terrible news. Be safe out there, everyone.  

1 comment:

  1. Has there been a rash of chemical plant incidents in the last few years, or am I just noticing more because the Internet spreads stories that wouldn't have made it past the local news in the old days? I can think of a bunch of chemical industry incidents in the last few years, but I don't remember anywhere near this many 10 years ago.


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