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Investigations

Date

Owner of Chemical Plant Pleads Guilty to Submitting False Statements and Causing the Death of an Employee

On May 9, 2013, Mathew Bowman, owner and president of Port Arthur Chemical and Environmental Services (PACES), pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court, Beaumont, Texas, to causing the death of an employee who died of asphyxiation due to hydrogen sulfide inhalation on December 18, 2008, while working at the PACES facility. Bowman also pleaded guilty to creating a false transportation document. 

This investigation was initiated in response to the deaths of two PACES employees who were exposed to unsafe levels of hydrogen sulfide, a poisonous gas, which was released while they treated and processed hazardous materials. The investigation revealed that Bowman was directing employees to load tanker trucks containing hazardous waste, flammable liquids, poisonous gases, and caustic liquids, and transporting them without the required identifying placards between PACES and a deep well injection site.

In addition, Bowman ordered hazardous waste water loads, which were received into his Houston, Texas, facility, to be illegally transported on public roads without the required placards. PACES employees accepted hazardous waste and treated it without the proper Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) permits and submitted false shipping documents to conceal these loads were being treated at an unpermitted facility.

We are conducting this investigation jointly with the EPA-CID, Houston Police Department, Texas Parks and Wildlife, and TCEQ Criminal Enforcement.