Waste sulfur blamed for Lehigh accident
An accident that sent six Lehigh Portland Cement employees the hospital in Carroll County Nov. 5 was caused by trace amounts of sulfur compounds in a waste oil truck that was left open at the plant, company officials said yesterday.
Lehigh released its finding after conducting what officials described as a preliminary investigation of the accident. The company said the waste oil contained hydrogen sulfide and mercaptans, which are known to cause the dizziness, breathing and eye problems and nausea symptoms shown by the employees.
"This is the first time we got oil from that source, and we will never get oil from that source again," said plant manager David Roush.
The waste oil came from a Mobil Oil lubrication plant in pTC Paulsboro, N.J., through Cemtech, a Chicago waste fuel distribution company, Mr. Roush said. The oil contained only small amounts of the sulfur compounds, but weather conditions caused the substances to be more concentrated, he said.
Brian McHenry, a Cemtech vice president, declined to comment on Lehigh's version of the accident yesterday. He said his company is investigating the workers' illnesses "and we expect a conclusion in the near future."