(Reuters) – A Texas grand jury on Wednesday indicted chemicals manufacturer Arkema North America and one of its executives on assault charges, allegedly underplayed by a fire that injured two emergency workers called to the site during a fire. 19659002] The US The French chemicals firm and its vice president of logistics, Michael Keough, were charged with "reckless assault" of two sheriff's deputies at mispresenting hazards of chemicals released during a fire after Hurricane Harvey, prosecutors said.
"The reckless assault was the misrepresentation at a highly placed corporate official of the dangers of organic peroxides that was flooded after the plant, said Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg.
Rusty Hardin is an attorney who represents Arkema Inc. in an earlier criminal case the district attorney brought against the company and two other executive over the same fire and chemical. release last year. Those charges are scheduled to go before a jury in May.
Mr. Hardin ridiculed the indictment, which came a month ahead of a scheduled criminal trial on reckless endangerment against Arkema and two other executives vote from the same fire
"I don't know how to charge someone with assaulting someone without ever having with him, ”said MR. Hardin. “This has to do with the power of prosecution in pursuit of a social agenda.”
The Arkema plant became waterlogged and lost power needed to keep the volatile chemicals cooled after Hurricane Harvey dumped more than 50 inches of rain on the area in September 201
The two deputies entered the grounds of the plant and were injured by smoke from burning containers, Ms. Ogg said The containers each hold around 500,000 pounds of organic peroxides
Twenty-one people sought treatment for exposure to the bladder, and the company was sued by first responders assigned to keep local residents from entering the area. The lawsuits allegedly "serious bodily injuries" from inhaled smoke.