Energy & Environment

Federal Regulators Make Safety Recommendations To DuPont After Deadly Leak

Investigators say a lack of safety procedures contributed to the death of four workers at the DuPont facility in La Porte last year.

Investigators with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board say flawed safety procedures, design problems and inadequate planning led to the toxic gas leak at the DuPont chemical plant In November 2014. Nearly 24,000 pounds of methyl mercaptan leaked into the plant in the middle of the night. Four workers died from exposure to the toxic gas.

Photo of the La Porte DuPont chemical plant
Four plant workers died from exposure to poisonous gas at the La Porte DuPont chemical plant, November 15, 2014.

The facility was supposed to be tested annually for ventilation flow, but that never happened. In the building where the workers died, two rooftop ventilation fans were not working, despite an “urgent” work order written nearly a month earlier.

Investigators say the building was not equipped with an adequate toxic gas detection system.

After a seven-month on-site investigation, the board has issued recommendations for DuPont. That includes safer building design, promising public accountability and sharing plans for restarting the La Porte facility with workers and unions.

DuPont has previously stated that it’s cooperating with government agencies, and is seeking their input before resuming operations at the La Porte site.

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