On Saturday, February 9, 2012, there was an explosion at the Laporte, Texas Air Liquide plant that occurred at approximately 7:40 am. Current reports indicated that one employee was killed, and another was seriously injured. Unfortunately, these types of events are far too common in our community.
From pictures and video, it appears the first explosion occurred in a metal building on the site that resulted in a fire and more explosions. It is reported that there were approximately 15 to 20 employees on the site at the time of the explosion. One employee was taken by Lifeflight helicopter to Galveston at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Current reports indicate that the employee sustained burns over 75% of his body. Burns of this degree and magnitude are often fatal, but if the employee is able to survive, he will face a life time of medical procedures and complications.
The other employee, identified as Javier Ortiz, is a 30-year-old chemist who was initially reported missing, but his body was later found. His wife, Julie, spoke with the media and indicated Mr. Ortiz was a wonderful husband and father of three children. Mrs. Ortiz, a high school teacher, said the couple has three children ages three, five and seven. Rescue workers had brought in heavy equipment and searched for Mr. Ortiz for hours before discovering his body under a considerable amount of debris.
This particular facility is owned by Air Liquide, who describes itself as “the world leader in gases for industry, health and the environment.” The company is known to mix gas including oxygen, nitrogen, and argon. The company’s headquarters is in Houston, but has more than 200 locations including about 130 gas plants and 2000 miles of pipeline.