The Poisoned Ink Well

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Good Luck to you guys in the CC. I hope you win!

Residents sue Honeywell over leaks

Advocate staff report
A group of more than 200 residents living around the Honeywell International plant on Lupine Avenue in Baton Rouge is suing the company over three chemical releases earlier this year.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday afternoon in state District Court in Baton Rouge.
The residents, who claim they suffered injuries during the releases, are asking for damages less than $75,000 per individual. The lawsuit does not have class-action status.
Reid Walker, a spokesman for New Jersey-based Honeywell, said Tuesday evening company officials couldn't comment until they received the lawsuit. As of Tuesday evening, Walker said the company had not received a copy of the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs are people who said they were affected by one or more of the three releases this year, the group's attorney William Grimley, said.

According to the lawsuit, on July 20, about 45,000 pounds of refrigerant brine and 15,000 pounds of chlorine were released. Plumes of the gases drifted over nearby neighborhoods and affected several hundred people.

Eight plant workers and some residents went to the hospital, the lawsuit said.

On July 29, a release of 2,000 pounds of antimony pentachloride, antimony trichloride and arsenic trichloride harmed area residents, the lawsuit said.

On Aug. 13, an employee caused a one-ton tank to release chemicals, including hydrogen fluoride, the lawsuit said.
Because of the releases, the plaintiffs suffered injuries, including breathing and skin problems, as well as mental anguish and fear that more releases could happen, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit claims that the reason for the releases was negligence on the part of the company and named employees.

A Honeywell employee died as a result of injuries he suffered in the July 29 release.

The releases also prompted investigations by local, state and federal officials, a review of safety procedures by company officials and temporary closure of the plant.