Two remain hospitalized following industrial accident - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/9/09

Two remain hospitalized following industrial accident

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By Ben Lawson  - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - "Hydrogen Sulfide at the levels that this person experienced can be paralyzing instantly," Lubbock Fire Chief Rhea Cooper said.  A 45-year-old, Lubbock man remained in critical condition Tuesday night, after authorities say he inhaled a toxic amount of a potentially lethal chemical. 

NewsChannel 11 has followed this developing story since late Tuesday morning. Just before 11:00 a.m., toxic fumes overtook two employees at Tyco Fire Suppression and Building Products.  That's located north of Lubbock, near the airport.

Before first responders had the situation contained, 10 more people went to the hospital. Five of them were also Tyco workers, but the other five were emergency crew members. Doctors at University Medical Center treated and released those patients. By Tuesday night, only two people remain hospitalized. The 45-year-old in critical condition, and a 34-year-old man who was in satisfactory condition at last report.

Authorities still hadn't released the names of those hospitalized by Tuesday night.  We can tell you that fire crews tested the air at the Tyco plant. They found high levels of Hydrogen Sulfide gas.  

Cooper tells NewsChannel 11 two Tyco workers were cleaning a 1,500 gallon, plastic tank Tuesday morning. Cooper says he doesn't know the entire process, but he says the crewmen weren't actually inside the tank. He says they use several different chemicals that stir around in the tank to clean it. Two of those chemicals, he says were used, are Sulfuric Acid and Hydrogen Peroxide. Cooper says that's what combined to make the Hydrogen Sulfide gas. Cooper says it appears one of the workers got on top of the tank, opened the lid, and that's when the fumes overtook him.

"As he opened the tank, I'm sure he took in enough of that gas that it was paralyzing, and it caused him to collapse instantly. That's how bad the gas is," Cooper said. 

In a written statement to NewsChannel 11, Tyco's Director of Operations told us operations at the facility have not been impacted by Tuesday's incident. Lionel Buenaventura says the incident occurred in a self-contained area of the plant used for waste treatment. He says they're investigating the incident. He says there were no uncontrolled emissions of fumes outside the factory. Buenaventura tells us right now; their concern is for the health and welfare of the employees who were taken to the hospital.

In addition to Tyco's internal investigation, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, better known as OSHA, has launched their own investigation.

©2009 KCBD NewsChannel 11. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

6/9/09
Two hospitalized after hydrogen sulfide gas incident at Tyco
Tyco officials and OSHA are investigating a Tuesday morning incident that sent 12 people to the hospital.

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