Family sues Dow over worker's death in Texas plant blast

12 April 2013 22:22  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US-based Dow Chemical is being sued in a Texas court by the mother and son of a plant worker who died after an explosion at the company's Deer Park complex.

Dow Chemical did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

The explosion occurred on 17 July 2012 at the complex's N5 ammonia recycle unit, the employee's family said in the lawsuit. At the time, the employee, Brian Johns, was changing the cartridge filters in the unit.

The blast blew Johns through the air and across the filter unit, the family said. In addition, the blast sprayed anhydrous cyanide and other caustic materials all over his body.

Johns was sent to the Blocker Burn Unit at the John Sealy Hospital in Galveston, Texas, the family said. He had third-degree burns on about 65% of his body.

In the following days, Johns caught pneumonia and developed sepsis in his lungs and kidneys, the family said. On 18 August 2012, Johns died as a result of a heart attack.

The family alleged that Dow knew that the filter unit was not working properly or safely. In fact, they alleged the unit was not even in working condition.

The family alleged that Dow refused to adequately repair or replace the filter unit. The company also failed to provide adequate training, safety equipment, supervision and warnings to the people working on the filter unit, the family alleged.

The family is seeking unspecified damages.

Following the explosion, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspected the plant and issued seven citations on 11 January. Every citation was serious except for one.

Dow has agreed to address the issues brought up by the citations, OSHA said.

By: Al Greenwood
+1 713 525 2645

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