Man “collapsed and died” around hydrogen sulfide leak near New Orleans — “Air tests did not detect anything that would be considered harmful to people” (VIDEO)

Chalmette Refining worker dies on the job; chemical leak contained, Fox8 New Orleans, October 8, 2010:

State Police say a hydrogen sulfide gas leak at Chalmette Refining LLC’s Chalmette plant has been contained, but not completely sealed.  …

The worker collapsed and died while repairing a pipe that had been leaking a dangerous gas for days.

“It just kind of smells rotten. I can’t really describe the odor. It’s just a horrible odor, and I just know it’s coming from the plant,” said Chalmette resident Saha Ismail. …

Company spokesman, Will Hinson said air tests did not detect anything that would be considered harmful to people. …

21 comments to Man “collapsed and died” around hydrogen sulfide leak near New Orleans — “Air tests did not detect anything that would be considered harmful to people” (VIDEO)

  • albert trimble

    Company spokesman, Will Hinson said air tests did not detect anything that would be considered harmful to people. …<< Oh yes, a company spokesman. Well of course we should believe a company spokesman. They probably didn't run any air tests, or the ones they did would test for something else. There was obviously something in the air; people smelled it and a man died, for pete's sake. Unbelievable.

  • His family will need help; may God take care of Gregory Starkeys’ wife and his children.

    Already the company minions are circling to protect their treasure chest.

  • TSGordon

    Lately, they are attacking us with chemicals by land and sea and air. All of which will receive little mention this election cycle. ..Few of whom will seem remotely relevant once the real body counts come in.

  • D. Thomas

    My sincere regrets to his family.

    Another clear case of negligence by greedy oil companies. They knew about the leak- he died trying to fix it… Exxon has the nerve to say it may be a heart attack. Oh, please! What, his heart should be blamed because it can’t withstand toxic fumes?!?! This poor man died because another billion-dollar corporation tried to save a buck!

  • patty t., alabama

    something else to think about, during/after Hurricane Katrina the holding tanks (those large tanks of oil) burst, don’t know how many, and some neighborhoods were flooded with oil, mud, seawater, goop!

  • Canuck

    Why wasn’t he wearing an air pack??? It’s industry standard to do so when around hydrogen sulfide over 7 ppm. isn’t even legal to be in the building (or the area) when the alarm goes off (at 7 ppm) -in Canada anyways- so he’s fixing a known leak without an air pack. I’d like to know who’s fault that is.

  • premurderedGOM

    “5 Past Midnight In Bhopal” is a book about the Union Carbide disaster. Shows exactly what the U.S. is. As I have said, we live in a corporation not a country. Don’t take much to figure out we are expendable.

  • Tawanda The Avenger

    GOM: I requested this book on the Bhopal disaster from the library.
    The resembalance between our own GOM disaster and Bhopal are striking. Why, there’s even a government/corporate coverup of the facts !

  • Canuck,

    Where did you get the figure 7 ppm? It’s not in the article referenced, so you must have read another article elsewhere.

    I say this with the utmost respect for you and your intellect [please don’t blame the victim], there are sufficient numbers of company ‘yes’ men to take care of that.

  • Canuck


    My husband is control room op. of a local copper mine and part of his job is when the alarms go off to evacuate the mill, put on the air pack and go down in the basement where the H2S collects with a detector. He very nearly lost his life in the oil patch when a leak sprung and he had no air pack. He’s very H2S savvy, he told me that alarms go off at 7 ppm (I’ll double check that number with him, I could be wrong) because that means it’s building not dispersing. At 17 it’s life threatening and at 60 fatal. He said when you can’t smell it anymore, you’re already dead. But I’ll check those numbers again to be sure i’m not giving faulty info.

    Don’t apologize for your question Sweetheart.

  • Canuck

    Okay, double checked and I was wrong on some

    7 ppm alarms go off (more or less depending on the company)
    60 ppm is dangerous
    at 100 ppm you have about 1 minute. He says (my husband) that H2S is a very heavy gas and if the worker bent over low to the ground he could have got a fatal whiff that detectors a little higher up would not have caught. Still doesn’t explain why the fellow wasn’t wearing an air pack when working on a known H2S leak. That’s just … :`(

  • Canuck,

    This sounds like the natural H2S gas at Yellowstone, where some lone animals have gotten a sniff-and-died, while a few feet away, another grazer may be uneffected.

  • jerry bolduc

    One whiff and you’re dead? What are you smokin’?

    The stuff smells like rotten eggs…the danger comes when you breathe it for a while, in heavy enough concentrations, you eventually lose your sense of smell. Most people start to get headaches at this stage. This should be enough to warn anyone to clear out…obviously, this fellow was clueless as to the dangers of hydrogen sulfide in high concentrations!

  • TerraHertz

    Yes, one whiff and you’re dead – if concentrated enough. See the Wiki site.
    * Less than 10 ppm has an exposure limit of 8 hours per day.
    * 10–20 ppm is the borderline concentration for eye irritation.
    * 50–100 ppm leads to eye damage.
    * At 100–150 ppm the olfactory nerve is paralyzed after a few inhalations, and the sense of smell disappears, often together with awareness of danger.[13][14]
    * 320–530 ppm leads to pulmonary edema with the possibility of death.
    * 530–1000 ppm causes strong stimulation of the central nervous system and rapid breathing, leading to loss of breathing.
    800 ppm is the lethal concentration for 50% of humans for 5 minutes exposure (LC50).
    * Concentrations over 1000 ppm cause immediate collapse with loss of breathing, even after inhalation of a single breath.

    Very sad. All the same, working on a leaking H2S pipe without a full face air pack- almost deserves a Darwin Award. Or if no one told him of the dangers, someone should be getting charged with manslaughter.

  • Janie Jones

    Workers in the Canadian oilpatch have to take a course called H2S Alive before they can set foot onto an oil company lease and definitely, this worker should not only have been wearing an air pack, he should have had fully suited worker behind him to drag him away should he collapse. Somebody slacked on safety here.

    In the oilpatch, remote camps and very long shifts are the norm. Twelve hours is usual but depending on what they are doing can go to up to twenty-four so sometimes you are completely exhausted and driving ice roads back to camp. I remember thinking, “Am I dying of H2S poisoning or just nodding off?” and being so tired that I didn’t even care.

  • arkansascajun

    I am 65 and from the NOLA aerea. I had three aunts / uncles who raised thier families with smelling distance of the aluminum plant in chalmette. it ALWAYS STUNK! whenever i visited them. they couldn’t smell anything because thier olafractory nerves were burnt out. They ALL ( including my cousins ) DIED YOUNG of “mysterious” or “RARE” diseases.
    That plant has been responsible for THOUSANDS OF DEATHS and untold suffering.

  • premurderedGOM

    Pensacola, Fl: The air here has been horrible for about 3 days. Yesterday I could smell the chemicals? on my skin after returning from the store. You can see, even on the horizon, a cloudy grey fog- like appearance hanging over the city and the Gulf itself. The sky at sunset was a sick looking purple haze. Have been coughing a lot. Running 2 Hepa filter air purifiers, windows/doors are taped. Air smells terrible. What’s going on?

  • octaviameister

    When I worked in the oil field in ND in the 80’s, there were many precautions for H2S, which was prevalent in the oil fields in ND. We had to take mandatory training to learn about H2S and how deadly it is. Any time I went to a rig or a production plant, they all, by law, has flags at the entrance indicating the H2S levels were safe or not. 24/7 H2S monitoring at all drilling rigs and production facilities. There were respirators for all employees and guest to wear in case of a leak. This was almost 30 years ago basically in the middle of no where.

    And a refinery in New Orleans, where there is a large population has no warning system, no respirators or nothing to protect or warn the employees or citizens?

    This is unbelievable, what is it about New Orleans? It seems every bad thing that can happen, happens in NO.

    Inexcusable, I hope the family sues Exxon for billions.

    Meanwhile, I have a suggestion for gulf coast and New Orleans residents:

    “Get the hell out of Dodge!”

  • arkansascajun,

    I’m sorry your relatives were treated with such “hoehum” attitudes such as [Ain’t nothing but country folk. Just let’em die in place — no need to pay’em for no early death or the like. There ain’t nobody caring bout them no how. You gonna grease me with more of them dollars ain’t’cha? I know how’ta keep things under a tight lid and sometimes I get a craving for some steak].

  • As one who is H2S trained, I can safely say that 1)He was required to wear a compressed air pack. 2)Another worker was required to be present, also w/air 3)The air tests were not done at the site of the leak. 4)One can go down and still be completely revived. Respiration is arrested. 5)If you smell rotten eggs, your okay 6)If you did and suddenly don’t get out. Above 10ppm your sense of smell goes away.
    7)Up until the 80’s when a well was found to be “sour” (High sulphur/H2S)it was capped. In America that is. But the sweet ran out and Americans still needed to fill the tanks.

    Up in Canada they worked these wells because that’s about all they have. Hence our training was based on Canadian experience. Our training film starred Canadian actor George Kennedy.

  • Correction – Kennedy was born in NY. The film was based on Canadian safety standards.

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