El Dorado Chemical Company is suing one of its suppliers for more than $100 million as a result of the catastrophic explosion that destroyed its El Dorado plant in 2012.

El Dorado Chemical, which is part of LSB Industries Inc. of Oklahoma City, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Oklahoma against Air Liquide.

CLICK THE PDF at left to see the five-page lawsuit.

While the nighttime explosion on May 15 caused no injuries, it shook the City of El Dorado. The blast ripped through one of the plant’s two nitric acid reactors and was heard miles away.

El Dorado Chemical manufactures industrial and agricultural grade ammonium nitrate, nitric acid and sulfuric acid at the plant. The lawsuit says that prior to May 15, 2012, the company had a contract with French-based Air Liquide for the sale of an on-site supply center of oxygen required for the reactions conducted in its nitric acid, or DSN Plant, reactors.

The company claims that during an initial startup of one of the two nitric acid reactors after a maintenance turnaround, a catastrophic explosion occurred in Reactor B, which resulted in significant damage to El Dorado Chemical’s property and business.

Air Liquide replaced portions of the existing oxygen piping within its on-site oxygen facility with new piping in 2010 or 2011, El Dorado Chemical’s lawsuit said.

Air Liquide owed El Dorado Chemical the duty to exercise reasonable care and caution in supplying gaseous oxygen to El Dorado for its DSN 98% nitric acid processes, the lawsuit said, but failed to do so in four respects, by failing:

-- To properly and thoroughly clean the interior of replacement oxygen piping segments installed in 2010 or 2011 at its on-site oxygen plant.

-- To properly inspect the interior of replacement oxygen piping segments before placing them in service in 2010 or 2011 at its on-site oxygen plant to ensure that they were free of any foreign contamination

-- To exercise due care and caution in the installation of the replacement oxygen piping segments to ensure that no foreign contaminants were left behind inside the oxygen pipe.

-- To ensure that the oxygen piping within its onsite oxygen plant was clean and free of any foreign contaminants.

“As a direct and proximate result of one or more of the foregoing negligent and/or grossly negligent acts or omissions, on May 15, 2012, during a cold start after a maintenance turnaround, gaseous oxygen from Air Liquide’s on-site plant transported foreign particle contaminants residing within Air Liquide’s oxygen piping into Reactor B of the DSN Plant. As a result, a violent oxygen fire erupted due to the particle contaminants’ impact with the aluminum reactor and/or reactor liner, resulting in a catastrophic explosion that destroyed the DSN plant. As a result of the explosion, El Dorado sustained property damage and business interruption losses exceeding $100 million,” the lawsuit said.

The company seeks a judgment in the full amount of its provable damages plus costs, interest and other relief.

The case number is CIV-14-481-F, El Dorado Chemical Company v. Air Liquide Industrial U.S. I.P.

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