Airgas refuses to supply nitrogen to executions in Alabama

One of Alabama’s largest gas suppliers will not supply nitrogen to the state’s prison system over nitrogen hypoxia executions.

Airgas, which was acquired by French company Air Liquide in 2016, is the largest US distribution network in the gas industry. The company has 24 offices in Alabama.

In a statement, an Airgas spokesman said supplying gas for executions is not consistent with the company’s mission. “Regardless of the philosophical and intellectual debate surrounding the death penalty itself, providing nitrogen for the purpose of executing people is not consistent with our company values.”

Airgas contacted Alabama in December to “reinforce the point and ensure there is no confusion as to Airgas’ position,” the spokesman said.

“For this reason, 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.”

No state has yet carried out an execution by nitrogen hypoxia, which would theoretically kill a person by forcing them to inhale nitrogen without a source of oxygen, resulting in asphyxiation.

Alabama approved this method of killing death row inmates in 2018 and this summer gave people on Alabama’s death row a one-month window to decide if they wanted to change their method of execution from lethal injection to the untested method of nitrogen hypoxia .

Read more: Alabama botched ‘arbitrary’ process of letting death row inmates choose execution method, court cases say

This process has been scrutinized in trials by federal judges and the US Supreme Court.

Executive Director Bianca Tylek of Worth Rises, a nonprofit dedicated to dismantling the prison industry and those who benefit from incarceration, welcomed Airgas’ commitment to not assisting with executions.

“There is no ethical way to kill people,” she said.

“But to the extent that it has caused great damage and trauma, and to the extent that the governor has eventually imposed a moratorium, we hope disrupting the technological advances of nitrogen hypoxia will prompt Alabama and its leaders to consider their moral progress and the death penalty.” abolish altogether.”

Airgas’ chief executive officer told Worth Rises in a letter, which Airgas verified as legitimate, that “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.”

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

Alabama spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on airgas every year.

Airgas, which supplies gases other than nitrogen along with gas equipment, welding products, and safety products, received $287,247.92 from the state in fiscal 2022, according to state records.

Several state industries were involved in the purchases, including the departments of forensics, conservation and natural resources, transportation, public health, and others.

Records show that the ADOC bought approximately $1,634, but there are no details as to what was purchased from the company.

Airgas’ stance on Alabama’s desire to conduct nitrogen executions follows Gov. Kay Ivey’s announcement in November that no executions would take place while an internal review of ADOC’s lethal injection protocol was conducted.

Tylek said she hopes this is the beginning of the end for executions in Alabama. “No one has the right to kill another. point,” she said. “It doesn’t make you a greater person because you killed someone who killed someone.”

In Alabama, four death row inmates were set to die by lethal injection in 2022; two of them survived after ADOC staff were unable to place an IV line for the injections before the death sentences expired at midnight on their respective execution dates.

“If officers couldn’t 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 injured,” Tylek said.

“These are simple tasks, and not doing them properly reveals a much more borderline problem that the death penalty is morally unenforceable.”