FIRST IN PRINT: Two workers killed in accident at Shintech; investigation underway

Deidre Cruse, Governmental Reporter

State and federal authorities are investigating an accident that killed two workers, overcome by fumes, Sunday at Shintech Louisiana's Plaquemine facility. Few details of the accident were available.

Tommy Rivet of White Castle, a Shintech employee, and Tory Sanchez of Napoleonville, a contract worker with Performance Contractors Inc., died in a vessel in a process unit that was not operational, according to the company.

“It will obviously be some time before we know exactly what happened, but our primary focus is on working with the families to answer their questions and address their needs,” Shintech Plant Manager David Wise said in a news release.

The bodies of the two men were sent to New Orleans Sunday for autopsy, and released to their families on Monday, the Iberville Coroner's Office said. Tests to determine the cause of their deaths were incomplete.

Iberville Emergency Preparedness Director said a Shintech Guard called 911 at 11:30 a.m. to report one man had fallen in the tank, but was still alive. Her office dispatched Acadian Ambulance to the scene.

Wise said the men received immediate medical treatment at the site, and that local emergency medical services were called in.

Shintech still has not made a report to the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), which receives reports of chemical incidents and is supposed to get the first notification.

Aubrey St. Angelo, chief of operations for the Iberville Sheriff's Office, said Iberville Sheriff's deputies responded a call about the accident around noon Sunday.

They turned the investigation over to the Louisiana State Police's Hazardous Materials Division and the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration, St. Angelo said.

Doiron said her office is supposed to receive a follow-up report from State Police HazMat within 15 days of the incident.

Wise said the company is cooperating with investigators.

No other parts of Shintech's facility or the surrounding community were affected by the incident, the plant manager said.

Shintech is in various stages of commissioning parts of its $1.9 billion integrated chlor-vinyl manufacturing facility in Plaquemine to produce polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

To help meet a growing product demand and build on our leading market position, Shintech Inc. is constructing a new manufacturing facility south of Plaquemine, Louisiana in Iberville Parish.??The proposed facility is located on a 1,725-acre site and will manufacture chlorine, caustic soda and vinyl chloride monomer (VCM).  The Iberville Parish site was chosen as the best site because it provided adequate rail, highway and deepwater access and had an existing dock. ??In addition to providing significant opportunities for local residents, the proposed facility is providing an economic boost to the state and Iberville and West Baton Rouge parishes by contributing tax revenue during both the construction phase of the project as well as once the facility begins to operate.