KMCO lays off 35 after deadly explosion at plant outside Houston

KMCO is terminating 35 employees at its specialty chemicals plant in Crosby more than a month after a deadly explosion killed one and injured several others.

The layoffs announced Wednesday mean KMCO is reducing its workforce of almost 200 employees at the Crosby plant by nearly 20 percent as a result of the fatal incident on April 2 and a subsequent reorganization.

“After completing a careful and in-depth evaluation, the company made the difficult decision this week to restructure our workforce to better align with our ongoing business and future growth opportunities,” KMCO said in a prepared statement. “This decision was painful but necessary to achieve our long-term strategic goals.”

KMCO said last week that a burst pipe was at fault for the explosion and resulting fire. The pipeline carried isobutelyne, a flammable gas.

Injured contractors who were working at the plant are suing KMCO, claiming company officials knew about a leak before the explosion.

The worker killed in the incident was James Earl “Bubba” Mangum, and at least two others are believed to still be hospitalized.

KMCO is a subsidiary of Owner Resource Group, an Austin private investment that acquired the company in 2015. The Crosby facility produces coolant and brake fluid for the automotive industry and chemicals for the oilfield industry.

The Crosby plant has a long history of fines and lawsuits from environmental and safety violations, including past incidents of workplace injuries.

This article first appeared on the Houston Chronicle – an Energy Voice content partner. For more from the Houston Chronicle click here.

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