Arkansas Chemical Plant Sues French Supplier Over 2012 Explosion

May 16, 2014

The operator of a south Arkansas chemical plant that exploded in 2012 has filed a federal lawsuit in Oklahoma against a French company that supplied industrial gas for the facility, arguing that the supplier is responsible for more than $100 million in damages and losses as result of the blast.

El Dorado Chemical Co., which is part of Oklahoma City-based LSB Industries Inc., filed a lawsuit against Air Liquide. The lawsuit accuses Air Liquide of negligence for failing to properly maintain oxygen pipes at the nitric acid plant in El Dorado, Arkansas, The Oklahoman reported.

Air Liquide supplied the plant with gaseous oxygen used to make nitric acid.

The 2012 explosion at the chemical plant occurred when the facility was restarted after being shut down for more than two weeks for maintenance. No one was injured. The lawsuit claims that the explosion was caused by contaminants in piping installed and maintained by Air Liquide.

Contaminants in the pipes maintained by Air Liquide ignited a “violent oxygen fire,” at the El Dorado plant, “resulting in a catastrophic explosion,” the lawsuit said.

Air Liquide spokeswoman Heather Browne said the company has a policy to not comment on pending litigation.

“Safety is Air Liquide’s core value and that value is the foundation of Air Liquide’s business,” Browne said in a statement.

Last year, LSB Industries received a $113 million payment from its insurance company because of the blast. The company previously announced plans to build a $120 million replacement plant in El Dorad.

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