Workers Exposed to Poisonous Gas

Article excerpt

Byline: ELWYN ROBERTS

WORKERS at a pharmaceuticals firm suffered life-changing injuries after a poisonous gas leak, a court heard.

One agency worker suffered a life-threatening pulmonary embolism and ended up in intensive care, and one employee suffered hallucinations, one of which caused him to jump out of a window and injure his face.

Judge Philip Hughes said: "These individuals suffered serious, incapaciting life-changing injuries, the scars of which they continue to carry and will carry for the rest of their lives."

Archimica Chemicals Ltd of Prince of Wales Avenue in Sandycroft admitted six health and safety charges and were fined PS80,000.

Its agent company Euticals Ltd, which later took over the site, admitted two charges brought by Natural Resources Wales of failing to comply with notices, allowing chemicals to escape from the site and failing to notify the authorities when it occurred. They were fined PS40,000.

Both are in liquidation and the liquidator entered guilty pleas to all charges at an earlier hearing.

Prosecuting barrister Lisa Roberts said: "Serious injuries have occurred to a number of employees and serious and as yet unquantifiable pollution has taken place."

She said an agency worker, Nigel Verdon, had been in intensive care due to the effects of methyl iodide (MI), had suffered a pulmonary embolism and had significant difficulties with his speech, memory and mobility.

Employee Lee Jones was the first victim to be hospitalised with MI poisoning and continued to suffer the effects including speech difficulties.

He had not been issued with a chemical suit, gloves or boots and when later given a face mask it did not have an MI filter.

Mr Jones became ill after finishing his shift in February last year and in hospital his liver was enlarged and he suffered hallucinations, one of which caused him to jump out of a window and injure his face. …