BATON ROUGE–Eleven neighbors of the Monolyte Labs Inc. chemical facility in Slaughter, Louisiana filed a lawsuit in the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge on September 24, 2013 for injuries and damages that resulted from the November 9, 2012, explosion and fire that destroyed the facility and required a middle-of-the-night evacuation of residents from their homes.
The residents, represented by the Baton Rouge, Louisiana personal injury law firm of Dué Guidry Piedrahita Andrews Courrege L.C. are experiencing a range of symptoms resulting from the blaze and subsequent protracted and continuing cleanup of the site. The fire destroyed the facility, which blended various toxic chemicals for use in the water treatment industry. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality had to repeatedly issue orders to owners of the facility to clean up the extensive chemical release and spill that resulted from the fire. Extremely strong chemical odors permeated blocks around the plant site for months following the explosion and fire.
Plaintiffs have experienced respiratory and other ailments since the incident. The five-year-old daughter of a couple whose home was near the Monolyte facility has required more than 20 trips to doctors and hospitals–some by ambulance–for treatment of respiratory problems since the Nov. 9 fire and release of chemicals. The lawsuit also claims losses other than physical injuries, such as diminished property values.
The lawsuit describes damages and injuries suffered by residents as follows:
“During the fire and the subsequent cleanup operations, plaintiffs suffered from acute and chronic exposure to the chemical emissions, resulting in physical damages, including but not limited to respiratory conditions that have required extensive medical treatment, as well as genuine and serious mental anguish and distress and fear and fright, for which they are entitled to recover for their past and future pain and suffering, past and future mental anguish and distress, past and future fear and fright, past and future fear of cancer and disease, past and future loss of enjoyment of life, past and future medical expenses, past and future loss of earnings and income earning capacity, and loss of property value.”
The chemical facility was operated under the name Monolyte Labs. Inc. but other companies were involved. On February 13, DEQ notified Rockwater Energy Inc. of Houston, Texas that it may be a potentially responsible party for the clean-up and disposal of contaminated substances at the Monolyte site. Earlier this year, the Houston Chronicle newspaper listed Rockwater Energy Solutions as the 10th largest private company in the Houston area.
The residents’ lawsuit names the following as defendants: Ascension Fasteners, Inc., Monolyte Labs, Inc., Rockwater Fluids Conditioning, LLC, and Rockwater Energy Solutions.
Clean up of the chemicals spilled at the site moved so slowly that DEQ was required to issue compliance orders to the owners and cited several violations of environmental regulations. Following November and December 2012 inspections at the site, DEQ notified the responsible parties that it had found three specific violations, including failure to notify the agency regarding possible hazardous waste generated by the fire and cleanup.
The residents’ lawsuit describes the clean-up operation as “a slow, haphazard attempt to remediate the pollution caused by the ‘Monolyte Laboratories’ facility. As this purported remediation dragged on, the chemicals that had been released into the ditches and soil continued to be released into the air and the surrounding community, creating odors that at times have been unbearable. The remediation effort has continued until the present date.”
The lawsuit points out that the Monolyte facility was so potentially hazardous that its utility was outweighed by its danger to the public, and the owners should, therefore, be held strictly liable for all damages. Chemicals present at the facility included, but were not limited to, acrylamide, acrylic acid, isopropyl alcohol, N – propanol, acetic acid, mixed xylenes, isoamyl acetate, sodium bromate, propane, ammonia aqua, and sodium hydroxide.