Worker sued Lyondell in May over safety at Texas plant that killed two

By Liz Hampton

(Reuters) – A contractor sued LyondellBasell Industries in May, alleging lax safety measures led to a workplace accident at the same plant that leaked chemicals this week, killing two contractors and injuring 30 workers.

Tuesday’s accident was one of the worst U.S. chemical plant disasters since a 2019 Texas blast forced the evacuation of some 60,000 people the day before the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.

The suit, filed in a Texas District Court in Houston against LyondellBasell Acetyls, said the company failed to provide a safe work environment at its facility in La Porte, leading to a pair of accidents last year.

In December 2020, plaintiff Adam Good was injured while working in a below-ground excavation trench box after a valve broke and forcefully pushed water and other liquids into the area. Good’s lanyard became entangled, preventing him from exiting, the lawsuit said. As a result he nearly drowned and was injured.

The suit alleges Lyondell had knowledge that the method used to secure the valve was ineffective but did not intervene. It also said a similar incident had recently occurred at that unit.

On Tuesday, Lyondell’s acetyls unit in La Porte leaked some 100,000 pounds of a mixture including acetic acid, leading to the two worker deaths and multiple injuries. The leak did not prompt an evacuation of the surrounding area.

Good and his lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A separate lawsuit against Lyondell was filed on Thursday by Bryant Hinojosa, a worker injured earlier this week. That suit, which seeks monetary damages exceeding $1 million, alleges that negligence on the part of Lyondell led to the accident.

The suit claims Lyondell discovered the leak on Tuesday and called out a company that specializes in sealing and correcting industrial leaks. Lyondell was told the leak needed to be sealed and repaired, but opted to call other contractors up to temporarily fix the leak, putting off permanent repairs until later, the suit said.

Hinojosa and his lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

LyondellBasell said it is aware of the lawsuits but does not comment on pending litigation.

(Reporting by Liz Hampton in Denver; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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