Jody L. Gooch, 40, William Rolls Jr., 32, and Sedrick Stallworth, 42 were contractors working at the plant when one of the tanks holding “foul condensate” exploded during routine yearly repair work. The seven injured were treated at the local hospital and sent home.
Piping in the pulp mill area of the Lake Forest-based plant was being worked on as part of the annual repair work when the 25-foot tank blew up.
Pulp, paper, and paperboard mills in the U.S. lead the world in pulp and paper production. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. mills produce 9 million tons of pulp annually as well as 26 billion newspapers, books and magazines. As one of the nation’s largest industries, 565 plants throughout 42 states provide jobs to more than 200,000 people.
The pulp and paper manufacturing industry can be a hazardous occupation, however. Immense weights are handled, and potential pulpwood loads falling, rolling or sliding are major risks that require workers to be constantly alert while on the job.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a total of 4,836 fatal occupational injuries occurred in 2015, marking the highest number of deaths since 2008. The number of deaths involving plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters, such as the three killed in the paper mill blast, were at their highest levels since 2003.
If you have any questions about whether a serious work-related injury could qualify for compensation, please contact Kendall Dunson, a Personal Injury attorney at Beasley Allen, for a free and confidential evaluation of your claim. He can be reached at 800-898-2034 or email Kendall.Dunson@beasleyallen.com.