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Industrial Accident Tragically Kills 2 Contractors in Sour Lake, Texas

An industrial accident claimed the lives of two contractors yesterday morning in Sour Lake, Texas, about 79 miles west of Houston.

Kleen Industries Subcontracted to Fix Pipe

The July 9th accident occurred shortly before 11:00 a.m., at the intersection of West Barkley Street and Mitchell Street in Sour Lake.
According to media reports, the victims were employees of Kleen Industries, which had been subcontracted by Texas Pride Utilities to repair a broken pipe in the city.
“We found two men unresponsive in the bottom of a sewer,” Emergency Service District Chief Glenn Withers told the Beaumont Enterprise “The hole was about 12 feet deep. We sent a paramedic down and did an evaluation on both men.”

Workers Were Overcome by Hydrogen Sulfide Gas

It now appears the men inhaled poisonous hydrogen sulfide gas released from mud in the sewer.
“The two were in the hole,” Sour Lake Police Chief Aaron Burleson said. “One went down, and the other was the ‘hole watch.’ There was an issue, and the safety went down to help his buddy, and both were overcome by (hydrogen sulfide).”
“(Hydrogen sulfide) will sit under that mud as long as there is a layer over it,” he continued. “Once you get over there and stir it up, the gas will come up.”

Kleen Energy Contractors Lacked Safety Equipment

The workers did not have breathing air, a harness, explosive meter, or a foul-gas meter. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.
Paramedics spent four hours recovering their remains. According to Withers, the recovery required a specialized team as well as equipment the city does not have.
So far, authorities have not identified the deceased. However, neither victim was from the area.
Inspectors from the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration were called to the site.

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