Former worker describes his experience with toxic exposure

(Courtesy: Robert Defoe)

ANCORAGE (KTUU) - Workers who say they got sick after exposure to toxic chemicals on a job site in Kenai five years ago are seeking justice as criminal charges are brought against Baker Hughes.

We sat down with Steven Adams, one of the workers who claims he was unknowingly exposed to chemicals that would cause him a lifetime of health issues.

"It's been the worst five years of my life," said Adams. "Stress like you couldn't believe" is how Adams describes his life after he says negligence on the part of Baker Hughes led to direct chemical exposure.

"One day I was overcome to the point where it was just a stinging caustic exposure," said Adams. "I couldn't take it anymore. It felt like 500 bees were just stinging me in the face that one morning when that came in."

Adams and at least three other men say they were on the job for about three months. He says they, along with their supervisor, repeatedly asked for answers. He says at one point, one of his co-workers asked why they didn't have monitors.

" 'Get your own monitors!' Adams recalled being told. "Then the other one spoke up and said, 'What's wrong with huffing a little ethanol?' "

Now the group of men, who are out of work, claim they are suffering from health issues such as sleeping and breathing problems, balance issues and hair loss.

"I had been diagnosed with Ataxia, reactive airway disease, obstructive COPD and all this stuff that I'm still dealing with today," Adams told Channel 2.

Baker Hughes came out on top in a civil lawsuit early last year by pointing out that the workers had received workers' comp to cover medical expenses, and according to state law, the men could not pursue additional damages from the project owner. Now, the company is facing criminal charges.

"The big thing with me is that justice is being served because they knew that they were doing this," said Adams. "They continued to do it. If this thing goes to trial, then we're all prepared to meet Baker Hughes head-on for what they did to us."

In an email to KTUU on Tuesday evening, a spokesperson for Baker Hughes vehemently denied the claims.

"Baker Hughes is committed to safety, and operates its oil field services facility in Kenai in compliance with the law. We vigorously deny the claims made against us, and will exercise our right to present evidence that the allegations are without merit," the statement said. "We have confidence in the judicial system and that the full facts will be presented in court."

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