Many of the plaintiffs came from McIntosh, a small town of 201 residents, in Washington County. Olin is located in McIntosh.
The 2018 complaint stated that somewhere around Feb. 17, 2017, Olin employees isolated the chlorine loading system to conduct routine maintenance.
“The loading hoses contain valves that need to be closed … so that dangerous gases passing through the lines cannot escape,” the complaint read. However, according to the complaint, multiple valves were left in the ‘open’ position.
At least 738 pounds of chlorine gas, according to the complaint, flowed through the open valves for the next 12 hours.
The other three complaints, filed in 2022, calculated a total of roughly 119.9 pounds of chlorine gas leaked into the atmosphere from Aug. 11, 2020, to Jan. 27, 2022.
The lawsuits stated that Olin failed to ‘sound an alarm’ to warn residents and those near the plant of the situation. The lawsuit claimed that Olin failed to use its ‘community call notification system.’
Two of the plaintiffs in the 2018 complaint were police officers who responded to the gas leak. Part of the lawsuit said Olin failed to warn the two officers of the situation and failed to recommend the use of respiratory equipment.
Much of these mistakes, the lawsuit claimed, are due to Olin’s failure to:
- Properly design, construct, maintain, and/or operate the chlorine loading system so that it would not leak;
- Properly hire, train, and/or supervise its employees, contractors, and/or agents;
- Discover and stop the leaks in a timely fashion;
- Provide adequate warning to the people near the Olin Plant when the leak occurred;
- Implement appropriate safety policies and procedures to prevent leaks; and
- Follow its own safety policies and procedures to prevent leaks.
The complaints stated that many plaintiffs experienced damage and depreciation of their personal and/or rental properties.
Some plaintiffs, according to the complaint, claimed they faced health concerns following the gas leaks.
The trial for all four cases, which had originally been set for Wednesday, was moved to a February docket.
“We are not ready for trial,” attorneys told the judge. “We have some things to discuss.”
Attorneys from both sides denied the request to go on the record.