HOUSTON Dec 3 One of two workers exposed to a
hazardous chemical at Valero Energy Corp's Tennessee
refinery early on Monday has died, the company said.
Both were hurt when a small window on a unit ruptured at the
180,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) Memphis refinery, spokesman Bill
Day said. He said the sight glass failed on an alkylation unit,
injuring a Valero employee and a contractor.
The Valero employee, who not identified, later died, Day
Memphis Fire Department spokesman Lt. Wayne Cooke and Day
said responders were investigating what chemicals were behind
the glass that ruptured.
Sources familiar with refinery operations said the chemical
was hydrogen flouride, which can cause severe burns if in
contact with skin or breathed into lungs. When dissolved into
water, the chemical also can be called hydroflouric acid.
The incident did not involve an explosion or fire as some
local media reports initially said. Valero said refinery
operations were not affected.
Last March, three workers at the Memphis refinery were hurt
in a flash fire during an overhaul of a crude distillation unit.
One of the workers later died.