Preliminary Findings In Chemical Leak Released

Recent findings are beginning to shed some light on what happened at the Rohm and Haas Chemical Plant.

Officials from the company conducting an investigation say that hydrogen sulfide gas had entered a steam ejector of a kettle that construction workers were repairing.  The gas apparently migrated from an adjecent building in what is being called an unrelated process.

The gas which is called "sewer gas" is often affiliated with sewer discharge.  The gas, which is commonly found in trace amounts, had apparently formed when a raw material used in a different process were heated by the system.  According to the company, the amounts should be absorbed in the environmental control equipment or vented out of the sewer vent.  However, the sewer vent was plugged up by harded material which blocked the escape of the gas.

Because the ejector was plugged, the gas continued to build until workers William Junior Cromer, 53, of Fayetteville and Richard Clark, 55, of Aurora, Indiana opened the valve releasing the gas exposing the two to extremely dangerous levels.

Cromer died last Saturday after struggling to stay alive.  He was aircared from the plant in Reading to University Hospital where he underwent extensive treatment to try to combat the effects of exposure.  Clark was initially hospitalized but is now recovering at his home.

The Cincinnati plant of the Philadelphia based company employs 109 people and produces specialty chemicals used to manufacture PVC pipe, vinyl siding and windows, and plastic bottles and credit cards.

Report: Cliff Jenkins