Survivors of a chemical leak at a Houston-area factory have filed a $1 million lawsuit for “gross negligence” in failing to warn workers about the dangers of the materials they were working with, as authorities identified two people who died in the incident.
Mike Lopez, an employee of the LyondellBasell chemical plant in La Porte, Texas, and nine others filed a lawsuit in Harris County Court on Thursday after Lopez said he could be disfigured as a result of exposure to the toxic substance.
Two contractors were killed and 30 were taken to local hospitals for evaluation and treatment, the company said.
Of those, 27 had been released on Wednesday afternoon.
LyondellBasell said about 100,000 pounds of a mixture made primarily of acetic acid, which is used to make food-grade vinegar, was released in the leak that began Tuesday night at the La Porte complex.
The LyondellBasell chemical plant in La Porte, Texas is pictured above on Tuesday after an explosion caused a leak of a toxic chemical compound. Two people died and 30 were injured
Mike Lopez, an employee of the LyondellBasell chemical plant in La Porte, Texas, sued in the Harris County court on Thursday after saying he may have been disfigured from exposure to the toxicant.
The acid burns the skin and is toxic if inhaled. It was also mixed with other compounds that cause fluid to build up in the lungs.
The company said it was given “all safe” Wednesday and the leak had been isolated and contained.
The company said air monitoring was ongoing and has not shown “doable levels.”
Two contractors – Dustin Day and Shawn Kuhleman – were killed in the leak. News of Lopez’s lawsuit was reported by the Houston Chronicle.
Authorities responded to reports of an incident at LyondellBasell Industries’ factory in La Porte around 7:35 p.m. on Tuesday.
Officials from the city’s Office of Emergency Management said a “process disrupted incident” led to the release of chemicals at the plant that makes polyethylene products.
It is also the world’s third largest producer of glacial acetic acid, a food preservative that is flammable and corrosive.
Mike Lopez, an employee of the LyondellBasell chemical plant in La Porte, Texas, and nine others filed a lawsuit in Harris County Court on Thursday after Lopez said he may have been disfigured from exposure to the toxic substance.
Two of the injured were taken to a hospital, five were treated at the scene and 31 were checked for possible symptoms, officials said.
In his lawsuit, Lopez says he “had to flee for his life” when acid began to spew from a cracked cap on a pressurized pipe.
He suffered severe mental distress and physical injuries that may leave him disfigured, he says.
“Plant explosions cause some of the most horrific industrial injuries we’ve encountered, and they’re often compounded by injuries sustained by workers as they try to flee to safety,” Kurt Arnold, a lawyer representing Lopez, told The Chronicle.
The other plaintiffs named in the lawsuit who were injured are Ariel Mata, Peter Martyr, Nayahl Martyr, Ricardo Sanchez, Christopher Davila, Joseph Chavis, Jonathan Daniel Alanis, Xavier Argueta and John Castillo.
The leak was isolated and Harris County Pollution Control conducted an air check, but there was no apparent threat to the community.
“There is currently no shelter or other protective measures recommended for the La Porte community,” La Porte EMS said in a statement.
Two people were killed on Tuesday after a chemical leak at a LyondellBasell Industries plant in La Porte, Texas, which officials described as a “mass casualty.”
Authorities responded to the factory in La Porte, outside Houston, around 7:35 p.m. on Tuesday
LyondellBasell spoke in a statement about the incident Tuesday night.
“At approximately 7:35 p.m. on Tuesday, July 27, 2021, our La Porte complex at 1515 Miller Cut-Off Road suffered an acetic acid leak,” it read.
“Our on-site incident response team responded quickly and the leak has been fixed. Emergency services from the city of La Porte and Channel Industries Mutual Aid are on site.
“Two people suffered fatal injuries in this incident. Four people suffered burns and are being transported for medical treatment. We are working closely with emergency responders to confirm that all employees are registered.
‘Air monitoring showed no level of concern for the community. The safety of our employees and those who live and work near our facilities is our number one priority.”
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo wrote on Twitter: “I am heartbroken to hear of the two fatalities at the Lyondell Basell facility in La Porte.
“Our county and other emergency services are working to support the other affected workers and verify that the incident is under control. Thank you to all who responded.’
The plant (above in a file photo) is the world’s third largest producer of glacial acetic acid, a food preservative that is flammable and corrosive