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Worker Killed at Valero’s Norco Refinery, State Police Say

March 07, 2011
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One worker was killed and another injured at a Valero Energy Corp. refinery in Louisiana after an evacuation prompted by the odor of hydrogen sulfide, said Doug Cain, a spokesman for the Louisiana State Police, reports Bloomberg. Two contractors were grinding exposed metal pieces on a new elevated unit at Norco St. Charles yesterday when one smelled hydrogen sulfide and the workers evacuated, Cain said in a telephone interview today. “The incident took place on the refinery’s millisecond catalytic cracking unit, which was shut down at the time,” Bill Day, a Valero spokesman based in San Antonio, said in an e-mail. “The incident did not present any danger to the surrounding community” and the refinery is operating, he said. Two contract workers with Koch Specialty Plant Services were hospitalized, according to Day. One of those workers died at the hospital late Sunday night and the other is expected to be released from the hospital today, he said. “What we found was one individual who looked like he had fallen down a ladder,” Cain said. “The other was conscious and was able to get down the ladder and was taken to the hospital.” The cause of the fatality, reported to state police at 6 p.m. local time, is being investigated. It isn’t known whether the fatality was from exposure to gas or from the trauma of the fall, according to Cain. “We did evaluate their meters this morning and they did indicate some level of hydrogen sulfide exposure,” he said. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board, which investigates refinery safety matters, is checking if the incident is being investigated, Daniel Horowitz, a board spokesman, said in an e- mail today.

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