Indian Trail man dies in industrial accident in S.C.

Jan. 22, 2013 @ 06:26 PM

Samir Storey, 39, of Indian Trail, died early Tuesday morning during an accident at Resolute Forest Products in Catawba, S.C.

The incident happened around 1:30 a.m. and is still being investigated.

There is speculation about what happened but nothing has been confirmed, Cotton Howell, director of Emergency Management for York County, S.C., said.

"We really don't know a lot of details about it, it's really still under investigation. The investigation is really just getting started," Howell said.

At the time of the accident, Storey along with three others were performing routine maintenance on a scrubber, which is a tank that works like a filter, and something went wrong. There's speculation that a chemical may have entered the scrubber but that is still being investigated. There were three people inside of the vessel at the time of the accident and one outside. Two of the three on the inside were able to get out but the third (Storey) was not able to move from the location he was in and the other two workers were not able to get him out. One of the workers who escaped was taken to the hospital while the other later went to the hospital on his own, he said.

"We just don't know until a thorough investigation is done," he said in reference to the cause of the accident.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and York County Coroner's Office are investigating the accident while the York County Sheriff's Office and Emergency Management will assist with the investigation. There have been accidents at Resolute Forest Products in the past but those were a long time ago. The company overall has had an excellent safety record, Howell said.

Storey and others working on the scrubber Tuesday morning were not employees of Resolute Forest Products but instead employed by a subcontractor of a contractor the business had hired for routine maintenance on the scrubber. Storey and the other workers were employees of Industrial Piping, which was a subcontractor for Tradesman International, which Resolute Forest Products had contracted with. The scrubber they were working on is used to collect fumes from the plant, which are later incinerated instead of being released into the atmosphere. At the time of the accident, they were doing some routine cleaning of the scrubber, Debbie Johnston, a spokesperson for Resolute Forest Products, said.

"Everyone is shaken," she said in reference to the atmosphere at the plant following the morning's accident.

The area of the plant where the accident occurred had been shut down while the scrubber was being cleaned and remained shut down after the accident occurred. The rest of the plant continued to operate. Resolute Forest Products produces lightweight, coated papers used in magazines and catalogs and has 603 employees. Safety's a priority of anyone on site, she said.

Everyone working on the scrubber had the proper safety equipment and they're not exactly sure yet what caused the accident. Though Storey died in the incident, another worker was treated at the site and released while the other was taken to the hospital, she said.

According to our news partners WSOC-TV, there was an autopsy Tuesday afternoon.