Worker Perishes at Dow Site in TX


FREEPORT, TX--Federal authorities and officials at two companies are investigating the death of a worker in a tank at a Dow Chemical Co. construction site.

Michael Brooks, 46, was found unconscious Tuesday (July 7) in a “confined-space vessel” at the Dow Oyster Creek site, according to the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office.

Brooks had been working for Fluor Corp., an engineering and construction firm based in Irving, TX, according to The Facts, a local news outlet.

Investigations Underway

No other information about the incident was immediately available.

A representative from the Houston office of the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration confirmed Wednesday (July 8) that the agency was investigating the death. OSHA investigates all fatalities involving employees or contractors on a worksite.

An investigator with the sheriff’s office said Brooks' death could have resulted from several factors, including gas or chemicals inside the vessel, lack of oxygen, or unrelated medical condition.

Brooks’ body was taken to the Galveston County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.

About the Project

Dow contracted with Fluor in 2013 to work on several Gulf Coast facilities, including the Oyster Creek site in Freeport, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The Oyster Creek project involves engineering and designing a Propylene Dehydrogenization (PDH) unit, including the power, utilities and other infrastructure; and installing a Light-Hydrocarbon (LHC-9) unit, according to Fluor.

Fluor Corp.

Fluor has been designing and constructing a PDH unit and LHC-9 unit at the Dow site as part of an expansion that aims to take advantage of the low cost of shale gas feedstock.

Dow’s expansion in Freeport is part of a multibillion-dollar plan that takes advantage of the low prices of shale gas feedstock, Fluor said.

Fluor officials did not respond Wednesday (July 8) to an email seeking more information about Brooks, his duties or his tenure at the company.

Company Sympathies

Both Dow and Fluor released statements on the incident via email.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues during this extremely difficult time. An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the incident," the Dow statement said.

Fluor spokesman Brett Turner said, "We are fully cooperating with all parties and ask that you keep the family, friends and colleagues in your thoughts and prayers during this extremely difficult time."


Tagged categories: Confined space; Dow Chemical Company; Fatalities; Health & Safety; Health and safety; North America; OSHA; Tanks and vessels

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