Workers who suffered life threatening conditions and recurrent problems after being exposed to toxic gases at a Deeside chemical factory in 2011 are still waiting for the “complex” case to be dealt with.
One worker was left in intensive care and others were hospitalised after half a tonne of methyl iodide (MI) was erroneously sent to a caustic scrubber on 30 November 2011 and mistakenly released into the atmosphere.
However, the case has been adjourned while District Judge for North Wales, Judge Andrew Shaw, decides whether it should be dealt with at the magistrates’ court or sent to the crown court.
Life threatening conditions
The toxic effects of MI put agency worker Nigel Verdon in intensive care after he suffered a life threatening blood clot. He also suffered considerable difficulties with mobility, speech and memory.
Employee Lee Jones was hospitalised with MI poisoning and also suffered speech difficulties, while fellow worker Terence Lyons was hospitalised on three separate occasions with breathing and other difficulties following exposure to the gas.
Agency worker Louis Banlin was exposed to toxic gas after going to the aid of Terry Jones, who had recurrent breathing problems following a release of methylene chloride.
Six charges brought by HSE
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought six charges against Archimica Chemicals Ltd, of Prince of Wales Avenue, Sandycroft. Euticals Ltd admitted two charges brought by Natural Resources Wales.
Liquidator Philip Crofts pleaded guilty to the incidents, which occurred between November 2011 and February 2012, at Flintshire Magistrates Court on behalf of the companies.
However, there is now a debate over whether the case should be dealt with at the magistrates’ court or sent to the crown court.
The case has been adjourned to Wrexham Magistrates Court on 9 October.
Commenting on the case, Steven Beard, Senior Litigation Manager at Lampkin & Co Solicitors, said:
“Unfortunately, accidents in the workplace are not uncommon and the injuries sustained can be life changing.
“If the company site is under Control of major accident hazards (COMAH) regulations – which ensure that businesses take all necessary measures to prevent major accidents involving dangerous substances – it may be that the crown court is better equipped to deal with the case.
“The fact that the companies are in liquidation makes the case more complex than it might have been otherwise. Companies in liquidation that have charges brought against them can bring up complicated sentencing issues.”
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