Airgas will not supply nitrogen for executions in Alabama

ALABAMA (WHNT) — In what some might call a controversial decision, one of Alabama’s largest gas suppliers said it would not supply nitrogen to state prisons for executions of nitrogen hypoxia.

Airgas, acquired by “Air Liquide” in 2016, is the largest gas industry distribution network in the country, with 24 offices in Alabama.

In a recent statement, an Airgas spokesperson said providing gas for executions would not be in line with the company’s mission. “Regardless of the philosophical and intellectual debate surrounding the death penalty itself, supplying nitrogen for the purpose of executing people is inconsistent with our corporate values.”

The company reportedly “contacted Alabama” in December to “reinforce the point and ensure there is no confusion about Airgas’ position,” the spokesperson said.

“Airgas Alabama has not and will not supply nitrogen or other inert gases to induce hypoxia for the purposes of human executions. Airgas’ contact with the State of Alabama has acknowledged receipt of our recent communication and confirmed their understanding.

There has been no state to perform an execution using nitrogen hypoxia, which theoretically would kill someone by forcing them to inhale nitrogen without an oxygen source, resulting in asphyxiation.

In 2018, Alabama approved the method to be used for executions of death row inmates and recently gave those prisoners a one-month window to decide if they wanted to change their method of execution from the typical lethal injection. to the untested method of nitrogen hypoxia. .

Alan Eugene Miller, an Alabama death row inmate, recently fought to be executed by nitrogen hypoxia rather than lethal injection, but argued that the paperwork he signed for that option had been lost by prison staff.

Federal judges and the United States Supreme Court have reviewed the process during procedural trials.

“There is no ethical way to kill people,” said Bianca Tylek, executive director of Worth Rises, a nonprofit that works to dismantle the prison industry and those who benefit from incarceration.

“But to the extent that it caused significant damage and trauma, and [Governor Kay Ivey] finally imposed a moratorium, we hope that disrupting the technological progress of nitrogen hypoxia will cause Alabama and its leaders to reflect on their moral progress and end the death penalty.

In a letter to Worth Rises, the Airgas chief executive said “Any suggestion that Airgas is working with the State of Alabama or anyone else to develop nitrogen hypoxia as a method of execution is categorically false.” .

This letter also stated that the Alabama Department of Justice does not currently have any nitrogen cylinders in Airgas’ possession, “according to our records.”

Alabama purchased $287,247.92 from Airgas in 2022, according to state tax records. The company – which supplies non-nitrogen gases as well as gas equipment, welding products and safety products – has supplied its products to the Departments of Forensic Science, Conservation and Natural Resources, transport, public health and others.

The Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) reportedly purchased approximately $1,634 worth of product from Airgas, but details of What was purchased were not available.

Tylek said she hoped this was the beginning of the end for executions in Alabama. “Nobody has the right to kill another. Spike,” she said. “It doesn’t make you a greater person because you killed someone who killed someone. “

Four death row inmates were scheduled to die by lethal injection in 2022. Two survived after ADOC staff members were unable to place an IV line for injections before their death sentences expired at midnight.

“If officers could not find a vein for the lethal injection, I have no confidence that an officer will be able to properly seal a mask to ensure others are not harmed,” said Tylek. “These are simple tasks, and not doing them correctly reveals a much more borderline problem that the death penalty is morally inapplicable.”


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