A grim pall hangs over the community of Pasadena, Texas, and the employees of Quala, a tanker washing facility (also known as a bulk container cleaning company) in that community. In the middle of the night on December 28, 2019, a worker at the facility entered an 18-wheeler tanker with the intent of cleaning the container. The employee evidently did not return from the cleaning task as anticipated. As a result, a second worker entered into the tanker, who also failed to reappear. Neither of the two men donned personal protective equipment, including gasmasks, when they entered into the tanker.
Ultimately, a third Quala employee – wearing a gasmask – entered the tanker to check on the status of the other two employees. Once inside the container, the third worker discovered the bodies of his colleagues in the tanker. The two workers evidently were overcome by toxic chemical fumes, dying directly after exposure to the airborne toxins.
Federal, state, and local authorities have been investigating the deaths since the morning of December 28th when first responders initially were called to the scene. The deaths are thought to have occurred at about 1:00 to 1:30 a.m., with the company calling first responders to the Pasadena tanker washing facility several hours later, at 7:00 that morning.
Previous information from the company disseminated to the public prior to the fatal accidents described the operations at the Pasadena, Texas, facility. According to this previously issued information from the company, employees at the Pasadena tanker washing facility specialize in cleaning chemical from tanks hauled by semi-trucks as well as trains. The facility has four bays onsite for the use in these chemical washes.
Deaths at Pasadena Tanker Washing Plant Follow Ongoing Problems at Facility
The two tragic deaths at the Quala Pasadena tanker washing facility come at the end of a year in which the company was repeatedly sited the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, for serious violations of safety rules. As of the date of the deaths of the pair of workers directly after the Christmas holiday, the Quala Pasadena tanker washing facility had been ordered to pay almost $27,000 in penalties for maintaining an unsafe work environment.
The Quala Pasadena tanker washing facility received four major violations in 2019. The full details of the associated inspections and violation reports were not available to the media or public during the weekend of the fatal accidents at the facility. What is known is that OSHA found the following severe violations at the facility multiple times during the course of 2019 and leading up to the workers’ deaths at the end of December:
- Unacceptable hazardous conditions for employees working in confined spaces (like tankers or bulk containers)
- Improper communication with workers about potentially hazardous or dangerous situations at the Pasadena tanker washing facility
In other words, the Qual Pasadena bulk container washing facility had been cited multiple times for precisely the situation that resulted in the deaths of two workers during the height of the winter holiday season.
Ongoing attempts have been made to obtain a statement from the company. As of three days following the deaths, the company has not responded to repeated communications from the media and others for comment about the state of affairs at the Texas tanker washing facility.
Families of workers who die in accidents like that which occurred at the Pasadena tanker washing facility have important legal rights that require immediate protection. These may include the right to pursue what is known as a wrongful death claim. In addition, individuals in a chemical plant or industrial plant mishap also have important legal important legal interests that must be protected immediately. An experienced Pasadena industrial accident injury lawyer from The Doan Law Firm at (832) 835-0000 is available to discuss these important legal rights and provide you with a timely, professional, and thorough case evaluation. There is not charge for an initial consultation with a Doan Law Firm industrial accident injury lawyer. Our offices are located conveniently at:
Houston, Texas 77056
The Doan Law Firm charges no attorney fee unless we in for you.