KMCO's fatal fire leaves victims' families with unanswered questions
Written by Brian Beckcom
The fire that broke out at the Crosby KMCO plant on April 2, 2019, has killed one person and injured at least five others. As the fire was being extinguished, news outlets started releasing first-hand accounts from anonymous workers at the plant. The information workers provided to the media leave us with more questions than answers.
These environmental and safety violations are red flags, warning us about potentially catastrophic problems at the plant. And a recent statement issued by KMCO does nothing to alleviate these fears. The statement issued by KMCO says that “KMCO, LLC acquired the Crosby facility in 2012. Therefore, KMCO, LLC did not own or operate the Crosby facility and is not responsible for any historic incidents or violations that occurred prior to 2012.”
KMCO provides specialty chemical manufacturing and toll processing services for chemical companies around the world. Toll processing is where a company uses specialized equipment to process raw materials for another company. The Crosby facility is capable of producing over 900 million pounds per year of toll manufacturing products. Many of these products are highly combustible, especially the isobutylene that combusted on April 2, 2019.
A spokesperson for KMCO told the Houston Press on the 2nd that, “Today the fire initially ignited with isobutylene. It was then further fueled by ethanol and ethyl acrylate. These are chemicals and solvents used to make fuel additives at our facility.” Isobutylene has a combustion point so low that a ringing cell phone can spark an explosion.
Questions pile up about the KMCO fire
Every piece of information that has emerged after the fire has created more questions than answers. Corporations that actually prioritize safety over profits don’t have this track record. Safe companies do more than talk about safety. Every decision and every action is based on keeping everyone safe. So what’s happening with KMCO?
Some of the questions we have about KMCO are:
What are KMCO’s safety processes?
What has been done in the past after explosions or environmental contamination?
What policies are in place to make sure these highly combustible and flammable chemicals are stored and handled properly?
Is the company properly training and supervising people?
Are contractors or third party workers at the plant properly trained and supervised?
What processes and systems are in place to ensure that everyone from the CEO to the newest hire puts safety over profits?
The corporations that entrust KMCO to safely handle their chemicals deserve to know that KMCO is putting safety first. The public has a right to know if KMCO is operating safely. Employees and their families deserve to know if they’re going to make it through a shift safely.
How to get answers from KMCO
Getting answers from KMCO about these questions is crucial for the family of the worker killed in the April 2nd explosion, the injured workers, and the community. Knowing the facts about why the explosion happened is the first step to holding the responsible parties accountable and to getting justice.
Injured workers and the family of the worker killed in the KMCO fire have a constitutional right to find out what went wrong, who dropped the ball, and why. You have the right to hold the responsible parties accountable for your pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and more. You have the right to send a message to the responsible parties that safety is more important than profits.