Pasadena, TX – An April 24, 2008 toxic chemical leak at a Pasadena plant injured no less than 30 employees and sent at least 18 to the hospital. Some were required to spend the night in the hospital after the exposure.
No one is sure exactly what caused the toxic gas called silicon tetrafluoride to leak into the air at the MEMC Electronic Materials Facility, and it has not been determined how much was released. All that is known is that a hose connected to a transport vehicle that was attached to the plant had developed a leak. This is a chemical that is used daily at the plant and it is toxic. It is so toxic that it can result in death after exposure. If it is absorbed through the skin, ingested, or inhaled, the chemical will kill. The workers at the plant had inhaled the gas, which is very corrosive and irritating.
In response to the emergency, the frontage road of Texas Highway 225 and Preston had to be closed off, as it was used as the staging area. Hazardous materials response teams and ambulances were dispatched to the site. They were able to contain the situation within the plant, which prevented any exposure to the outside public.
The company had to shut down their front-end silane operations in order to conduct a safety review. However, the facility was able to resume their operations on April 25, 2008. All three of the silane units within the facility were fully operational.
Nabeel Gareeb, president and CEO of MEMC, says that the safety of their employees is the company’s primary concern and is thankful that all who were transported to the hospital have now been released. He says that the safety review has concluded that the leak was likely a result of a faulty transfer line, but the investigation will continue through third party analysis.
According to the company, it is unlikely that they will offer any further updates regarding the toxic leak.
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