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Nalco (Ecolab) workers on alert following murders in Mexico

11/04/2012

By Bill Bird / Naperville Sun

Employees of an international water and energy corporation with a main branch in Naperville have been placed on alert, following the murders of two workers late last month in Mexico.

Ecolab is a water hygiene and energy technologies and services corporation headquartered in St. Paul, Minn. The corporation – with 40,000 employees in more than 160 countries around the world – recently merged with the Nalco Company, located at 1601 W. Diehl Road on Naperville’s far northwest side.

Two Mexican Ecolab employees vanished on Oct. 24. They were “en route to install equipment at a customer location in Piedras Negras, Coahulia (Mexico), but did not arrive as scheduled,” said Roman Blahoski, Ecolab’s director of global communications.

A Mexican news agency reported the men’s bodies were found the next day, floating in the Rio Grande River. They apparently died of skull fractures after being struck with a blunt object, and also might have been stabbed, the agency reported.

The motive for the murders is not known. Police are investigating, but either do not know or are not commenting on the circumstances surrounding the crime.

The Sun last week received an anonymous e-mail that accused Ecolab executives of not having notified employees of the killings. The e-mail in part stated “people are concerned and asking questions,” as “employees can be required to travel into dangerous areas.”

Blahoski on Friday dismissed the allegation, saying Ecolab officials “did send a message to all associates informing them of the incident, and included a safety alert for traveling to and within Mexico.” The alert “recommended employees limit their travel” there, Blahoski said.

He also released a copy of a statement sent Tuesday to employees from Doug Baker, Ecolab’s chairman and chief executive officer.

Baker identified the murdered men as an equipment supervisor and an equipment engineer, “both valued associates in our water and process services business.”

“Our hearts go out to their families as they grieve the tragic loss of their loved ones,” Baker wrote. The men had five children between them, he said.

“It is extremely hard to cope with the loss of colleagues under these circumstances. We’ve made counseling services available to any of their co-workers who need additional support.”

“We are cooperating fully with the police investigation, and hope that the criminals responsible are swiftly brought to justice,” Baker said.

Ecolab’s vice president of global safety, health and environment prepared the safety alert. Baker urged employees to “not take any chances with your personal safety,” as company officials “want all of our employees to return home safely, every night, everywhere in the world.”