Port of Catoosa trustees find flaws at Solkatronic Chemicals

Sunday, December 16th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ A chemical manufacturing plant where a gas release in July sent more than 100 Tulsa Port of Catoosa workers to the hospital has altered its manufacturing process to reduce the threat of future releases.

Solkatronic Chemicals made the changes following an engineering study commissioned by the port's trustees that found deficiencies in the company's manufacturing process that could pose risks for neighboring industries and property owners.

Solkatronic, which produces gases for the semi-conducter industry, altered its manufacturing procedures to reduce the threat of arsine gas, which is an odorless and deadly hazardous chemical, officials said.

``Solkatronic made a number of significant changes,'' Port Director Bob Portiss said. ``We now believe that if there were to be another incident, any leaks would be contained at the fence line.''

A company investigation of July's release found that it was caused by a combination of a recent change in the manufacturing process of arsine gas and human error.

A ruptured cylinder of arsine gas released 54 pounds of the highly toxic chemical into the air. No one was seriously injured although more than 100 workers, including more than 60 of the 500 workers at the Air-X-Changers industrial plant next to Solkatronic's plant, were hospitalized.

Domain Engineering Inc., which conducted the hazardous chemical study for the port, found that cylinders containing arsine gas in various stages of manufacture were stored in an area that was not operated under negative pressure.

The area was also beyond the reach of the company's scrubbers, which remove hazardous chemicals from the air, the report said.

Solkatronic executives have said that they plan to halt production of arsine gas at the port by May 1, 2004.