Air testing provider added to Texas chemical plant fire law suit

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Air monitoring company Bureau Veritas SA has been added to a negligence suit, lawyers for Texas police and emergency workers said on Wednesday, after the first responders alleged they inhaled dangerous fumes during a fire at a chemical plant.

The suit, filed in Harris County District Court, seeks at least $75,000 for injuries caused by the alleged negligence after volatile organic chemicals were ignited at the plant in Crosby, Texas, on Aug. 31. The fire came after flooding from Hurricane Harvey knocked out power to an Arkema SA chemical plant.

The amended suit added six more emergency workers and Crosby residents to its list of plaintiffs, which now numbers 18.

Arkema and local officials set up a 1.5 mile radius evacuation zone, after warning there was no way to prevent the chemicals from igniting after the plant’s cooling systems shut and its workers evacuated.

The workers said Bureau Veritas failed to warn them of the dangers or advise them to take precautions despite being in regular communication, according to the suit.

About 15 emergency workers manning the evacuation perimeter required care at the scene or were taken to a hospital and treated for smoke inhalation.

Bureau Veritas tested the air during the fire.

The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Arkema has said it will contest the allegations and called the suit “gravely mistaken.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Chemical Safety Board have said they are investigating the fire and safety procedures at the plant.

Reporting by Gary McWilliams, editing by Marcy Nicholson