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Seven Louisiana residents sue Honeywell over acid leak

By Rebecca Campbell | Jan 25, 2017

GEISMAR — Seven Geismar-area residents have filed a lawsuit against Honeywell, claiming they suffered “fear, fright, and inconvenience,” according to a news report, after one of the company's nearby plants began leaking sulfuric acid.

The plant opened in Geismar in 2013 and produces several chemical products, including automobile refrigerant  HFO-1234yf, reported a sulfuric acid leak on Aug. 13, 2016 amid severe weather conditions in Louisiana.

According to a report from Louisiana’s KSLA TV, the class-action lawsuit was filed in September by Ozell Scott, Savetria Martin, Josh Hall, Trent Tate, Ida Hall, Michelle Colar and Megan Fobbs.

The news report said that the sulfuric-acid leak at the plant took place around 5:30 p.m. Aug. 13, and for around six hours following the incident, residents in the area were ordered to remain indoors, keep their windows closed, and turn off their air conditioners until the leak had been stopped.

Following the leak, the shelter was in place from Saturday night for Geismar, the Carville area, the St. Gabriel area, and everything south of Highway 74 in Ascension Parish for a day as emergency workers responded to containing the leak. In a report from WAFB-TV, inspectors gave the all-clear sign to allow thousands of residents to open their windows and turn back on their air conditioners.

The lawsuit does not mention any physical injuries to the seven plaintiffs.

The lawsuit alleged that Honeywell was responsible for the leak and that several factors contributed to it, such as “failing to properly handle and contain hazardous and harmful substance,” in addition to asserting that ‘employing untrained or poorly trained employees’ contributed to the leak.

WAFB-TV was alerted to the lawsuit after receiving a subpoena on Dec. 1 from attorneys, representing the plaintiffs and asking for copies of its news reports of the incident.

In a statement released from Honeywell to WAFB-TV, the plant manufacturer said it responded immediately to control and put a stop to the leak, instructing employees of the site and two neighboring sites “to shelter in place as a precaution.” It added that it intends to fight the lawsuit, insisting that it did not pose a threat to people or the environment.

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