Load of chemicals to be shipped to Port Arthur

Chemicals were once destined to become ingredients to make Syria's chemical weapons

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter

PORT ARTHUR, Texas - Local 2 Investigates has learned a load of chemicals, once destined to become essential ingredients to make Syria's chemical weapons, will instead be shipped to Port Arthur.

"Our employees are very proud of the fact that Veolia has been selected to play a small part in the project," said Mitch Osborne, general manager of the facility.

Veolia Environmental Services' Jefferson County facility has won a government contract that will bring the chemicals to the plant for what is called "ultimate destruction."

"This is something we do everyday," Osborne said. "We are very proud of our safety record."

The well-secured facility contains a massive 2,000-degree incinerator capable of burning massive quantities of almost any substance until it is completely gone.

Osborne said he did not know exactly when his facility would receive the chemicals, but they would arrive by ship.

"We don't know if it will be two months from now or four months from now," Osborne said.

Local 2 Investigates has learned these are the chemicals the plant will receive; each of them, individually, have legitimate industrial applications:

--Hydrogen fluoride
--Hydrochloric acid
--Phosphorus pentasulfide
--Phosphorus oxychloride
--Phosphorus trichloride

Given the seriousness of the job, Local 2 Investigates took a closer look at the plant's safety and environmental record. We could find no deaths or serious injuries logged with OSHA.

However, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality did recently assess the plant with a $13,050 fine for repeated carbon monoxide emission violations. Other equipment problems are also cited in the report.

"We strive for 100 percent compliance. When we don't meet that standard, we do everything we can to ensure we meet it next time," Osborne said.

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