KMCO Announces Layoffs After Deadly Crosby Chemical Plant Explosion
Nearly three dozen employees at the KMCO chemical plant in Crosby, Texas are now out of work, less than two months after a massive explosion and fire tragically killed one of their co-workers.
35 Jobs Eliminated at Crosby Chemical Plant
Prior to the April 2nd explosion, just under 200 people were employed at the KMCO Crosby facility. Now the company is blaming the disaster for a restructuring that resulted in the elimination of 35 positions.
KMCO employees were informed of the layoffs on May 15th, which reduced the plant’s workforce by about 20%.
“This decision was painful but necessary to achieve our long-term strategic, goals,” a KMCO statement said. “The company is grateful for the contributions made by each of the affected employees and we wish them the best in their future endeavors.”
2 KMCO Workers Remain Hospitalized
The KMCO plant explosion was triggered by a ruptured pipe carrying highly-flammable isobutylene gas. The pipe ignited shortly before 11:00 a.m., causing a nearby tank to catch fire. The flames then spread to a warehouse filled with chemicals, including ethanol and ethyl acrylate.
Fire crews worked for five hours to extinguish the blaze, while nearby residents and students were forced to remain indoors.
KMCO later confirmed that a 27-year-old man from Daisetta, Texas had died in the explosion.
Helicopters flew two other critically injured men to Houston trauma centers. Media reports indicate that both remain hospitalized.
Evacuation Ordered Moments Before Crosby Plant Explosion
According to many KMCO employees, management knew about the ruptured pipe and ordered an evacuation just moments before the explosion. Unfortunately, their escape was hindered by a locked gate.
“We had to crawl underneath the gate because the gate was locked at the time, so just run,” one worker told ABC13. “We were still in the actual plant when it blew up.”
KMCO Has History of Violations
KMCO is a subsidiary of Owner Resource Group, a private investment firm based in Austin.
The Crosby chemical plant manufactures coolant and brake fluid for the automotive industry, as well as chemicals for the oilfield industry.
KMCO has apparently racked more than a few serious environmental violations over the years. In fact, the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality has fined the company 10 times since 1995, totaling nearly $141,000.
In 2016, KMCO was convicted on two counts of violating the federal Clean Air Act and ordered to pay part of a $3.3 million criminal penalty.
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