Honeywell to Pay Millions for Chemical Release that Resulted in Worker's Death

Honeywell International Inc. will pay $12 million for the release of toxic chemical that resulted in the death of an employee at the company's Baton Rouge, La., facility.

The company pleaded guilty to one count of negligently causing the release of hazardous air pollutants and negligently placing another person in imminent danger of death, the U.S. Attorney's office for the Middle District of Louisiana announced on Sept. 13. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Ralph E. Tyson sentenced Honeywell to two years probation, a criminal fine of $8 million, restitution of $2 million to the victim's three children, community restitution of $750,000 to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, community restitution valued at $750,000 to the Louisiana State Police Hazardous Materials Unit, and community restitution valued at $500,000 to the Louisiana State Police Emergency Operations Center.

According to the U.S. Attorney's office, on July 29, 2003, Delvin Henry, an employee at the Baton Rouge Plant, opened a one-ton cylinder, which had been erroneously labeled as containing relatively benign refrigerant. Once opened, appropriately 1,800 pounds of spent antimony pentachloride, which is a highly toxic and corrosive hazardous material, was violently released from the cylinder. Henry was struck by the material and died the following day from his injuries.

"The tragic death of an employee may have been avoided if Honeywell had simply followed the law," said Granta Nakayama, assistant administrator for the EPA's enforcement and compliance assurance program. "EPA will vigorously pursue corporations whose failure to comply with environmental laws threaten human health and the environment."

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