The former owner of a business where two workers died within a four-month period faces years in prison and hundreds of thousands in fines following an indictment by a federal grand jury.
Port Arthur Chemical and Environmental Services (PACES) and its former president and owner, Matthew Bowman, are charged with conspiracy to illegally transport hazardous materials resulting in two worker deaths.
The conspiracy counts each carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for Bowman and $500,000 for the company.
PACES, which ceased operation in 2010, has filed for bankruptcy.
Workers at the Port Arthur, TX, facility weren’t properly protected from exposure to hazardous gases.
Charles Sittig, 48, died April 14, 2008, of a heart due to hydrogen sulfide inhalation.
Joey Sutter, 36, died Dec. 18, 2008, by asphyxiation and poisoning due to hydrogen sulfide inhalation.
Both men were truck drivers.
Bowman and PACES are charged with
- conspiracy to violate the Hazardous Materials Transportation Uniform Safety Act, and
- two counts of failure to implement appropriate controls to protect employees from exposure to hydrogen sulfide in violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Act.
Hydrogen sulfide is an acute toxic substance that is the leading cause of sudden death in the workplace. Employers are required by OSHA to implement engineering and safety controls to prevent employees from exposure above harmful limits.
According to the indictment, Bowman was responsible for, among other duties, employee safety precautions and determining what safety equipment could be purchased or maintained.
Bowman was also president and owner of CES Environmental Services in Houston. In 2008, another worker died at the Houston facility when an explosion and flash fire knocked him from the top of a tank he was filling with water. OSHA fined the company $1.5 million for safety violations.
None of the current indictments relate to the Houston case.