New report outlines dangers petrochemical workers face

Nick Natario Image
Friday, May 26, 2023
New report outlines dangers petrochemical workers face
In July 2021, an acid leak broke out inside the Lyondell plant in La Porte. It was an incident that killed two and injured many other workers.

LA PORTE, Texas (KTRK) -- A new report shows how dangerous a lack of training and awareness had become surrounding a piece of equipment for some in the petrochemical industry.

In July 2021, an acid leak broke out inside the Lyondell plant in La Porte. It was an incident that killed and injured several workers.

RELATED: 2 dead, 30 hospitalized in chemical leak at LyondellBasell chemical plant in La Porte

Two people were killed and 30 people hospitalized were part of the 42 total people who required treatment for injuries, ranging from minor to critical.

An attorney representing one of them explained what his client says happened while they were working on a valve.

"They were unbolting it, and unbolted the wrong bolts and out came over 100,000 pounds of acid," Abraham Watkins managing partner Benny Agosto said.

This week, ABC13 learned more about how it happened. The U.S. Chemical and Hazard Safety Investigation Board looked into the incident since it occurred nearly two years ago.

The independent federal agency released a nearly 40-page report. In it, the agency says untrained workers removed the wrong part of the valve.

By doing so, it released 164,000 pounds of acid. Two people died, and 30 others had to go to the hospital.

It cost LyondellBasell $40 million in losses due to damage caused at the facility. The report doesn't only focus on this incident.

It outlines other incidents where problems occurred with the valve.

"They are really going after them to show that there has been a pattern of using these valves that need to be updated. They need to be replaced," Agosto explained.

The report also outlines what should be done to prevent future incidents. It says the valve should be changed to prevent human error. Also, better training and procedures need to take place for people who work with it. And signage and warnings need to be placed around the equipment.

"We hope that these changes do make a difference for the future of other workers or other families so that the people in this case are suffering and have suffered," Agosto said.

We reached out to LyondellBassell about the report to see if plans to implement the recommended changes. So far, we haven't heard back.

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