Did a flagger working for "NPL Pipeline Company in the Chicago suburbs" die after being given a bottle of water "suspected" of being "laced with fentanyl"? No, that's not true: NPL told Lead Stories that the report is "entirely false."
Dear Crew Members,
We regret to inform you of a tragic incident that occurred two days ago involving NPL Pipeline Company in the Chicago suburbs, During the project, two flaggers were offered bottles of water by an unknown individual in a passing car. Sadly, one of the flaggers lost their life, and the other flagger is currently in critical condition. After conducting an investigation, it is suspected that the water provided to the flaggers was laced with fentanyl, a potent and dangerous opioid
This unfortunate event serves as a somber reminder of the potential dangers that can arise when accepting food or beverages from external sources while on the job. We cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining vigilance and being cautious of any offers from unknown individuals during project work.
To ensure the safety and well-being of all our crew members, we are issuing the following safety guidelines:
Never Accept External Food or Beverage: Under no circumstances should any crew member accept food or drinks offered by anyone outside the project team, regardless of their intentions.
Bring Your Own Food and Beverages: Each crew member is responsible for bringing their own food and beverages to the worksite. Ensure that your provisions are properly sealed and have not been tampered with.
Stay Alert and Communicate: Remain vigilant and watchful of any suspicious behavior or individuals in the vicinity of the project site. Report any concerns to your supervisor or the project manager immediately.
Educate All Team Members: Share the details of this incident with your fellow crew members, emphasizing the importance of adhering to safety protocols and avoiding potential risks.
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of the writing of this fact check:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Jul 21 17:44:21 2023 UTC)
"NPL Pipeline Company" referred to NPL Construction, a natural-gas infrastructure company that has an office in Chicago.
In a July 21, 2023, email to Lead Stories, NPL Construction called the circulating report "misinformation." Representative Lauren Nabulsi provided the company's response. It said (emphasis theirs):
We are aware of a false report stating NPL employees were harmed after drinking drug-laced water offered to them by a member of the public. This information is entirely false. No NPL employees have been involved in any incident of this nature anywhere throughout the country. We are unsure where this story originated but can confirm no NPL employees have been harmed in this way.
Since the "safety alert" was on Precision Pipeline letterhead, Lead Stories also contacted that company, a pipeline contractor, to find out how it got the information. On July 21, 2023, a Precision Pipeline employee read the following statement over the phone without further comment:
While the incident did not happen on a Precision Pipeline project, we issued the safety bulletin to crew members as an awareness to the potential dangers that can arise when accepting food or beverages from external sources. We prioritize safety above all else and want our workers to be vigilant and exercise caution for everyone's safety and well-being.
Lead Stories has debunked multiple other claims involving fentanyl: