CF Industries has formed an incident investigative team to probe the cause of a death Friday at the company’s construction site at its massive nitrogen complex in Ascension Parish, a company operations manager said Saturday.
A Sulzer Chemtech construction employee, who was working inside a completed tower more than 100 feet tall, was found unresponsive at the bottom of the vessel Friday, said Morris Johnson, CF Industries operations manager.
“Obviously, it’s (the investigation) going on as we speak,” Johnson said shortly after noon Saturday.
He said the worker was taken to Prevost Memorial Hospital in Donaldsonville where he was pronounced dead Friday.
Johnson said CF officials were notified of the discovery of the worker about 1:15 p.m. Friday. Work was stopped in the immediate vicinity of the incident around the complex’s new acid plant, though not elsewhere on a construction site that employs hundreds of workers.
Johnson said work had not resumed Saturday at the site of incident while the investigation continues. Johnson said he did not know yet what the worker had been doing inside the tower or what led to him being found unresponsive at the bottom of the structure.
The name of the contractor has not been made public pending notification of next of kin of the worker who died, Johnson said.
A spokesman for Sulzer Chemtech, a subdivision of a Swiss company that builds pumps and other chemical mixing equipment, offered condolences.
“We are committed to offering our full support and assistance to the family members to assist them in their time of need,” said John Bailey, senior vice president in Houston. “Sulzer Chemtech is presently investigating the facts surrounding this event.”
Bailey was unable to provide details on what the worker was doing at the time, other than that he was doing construction. Asked if the worker fell, Bailey said the company was still investigating and that their investigators were “going through that at the moment.”
CF Industries has been undergoing a $2.1 billion expansion of its Donaldsonville-area complex in west Ascension.
The plant, located on 1,400 acres along the Mississippi River, is North America’s largest nitrogen facility.
The expansion, which will boost the plant’s capacity by 40 percent, is slated to be finished early next year, Johnson said.
The CF Industries plant experienced a rupture June 14, 2013, that killed one person and injured seven others as workers unloaded nitrogen from a tank truck, and it was the site of a 2000 explosion that killed three and injured eight others. That explosion resulted in an Occupational Safety and Health Administration fine of $149,850 and 14 citations for safety and health violations.
Advocate staff writer Danielle Maddox Kinchen contributed to this report.