Grand jury indicts Baker Hughes and employee for toxic chemical exposure

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - A grand jury in Anchorage indicted Baker Hughes Inc., two subsidiaries, and an employee for 25 felony counts stemming from allegedly repeatedly exposing employees to toxic chemicals in 2014. The company now faces a $2.5 million fine, while the employee, John Clyde Willis, faces a $250,000 fine and up to 20 years in prison.

Baker Hughes Inc., Baker Petrolite Corporation, Baker Hughes Oilfield Services Inc., and John Clyde Willis were indicted on Tuesday, Sept. 10 on 10 counts of Assault in the First Degree, 10 counts of Assault in the Second Degree, and five counts of Assault in the Third Degree.

According to the the indictment cited in a Department of Law release, employees were exposed to toxic chemical releases from an old chemical transfer facility while building a new one.

The release says that the defendants "failed to provide safety information regarding the chemicals used on site and failed to respond to repeated complaints by workers about the chemical exposures" until May 8, when several employees ended up in the hospital after a large exposure event.

The five employees affected reported symptoms including ataxia, memory loss, migraines, vertigo, respiratory issues, and tremors.

In a statement, Baker Hughes says that it will fight the charges in court.

“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. We have confidence in the judicial system and that the full facts will be presented in court,” read a statement from a company spokesperson.

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