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Chemical Leak at DuPont Facility in La Porte Kills Four

In November of last year, four workers died as a result of a chemical leak at the DuPont Facility in La Porte, Texas. A fifth had to be sent to the hospital for injuries sustained as a result of the leak. Fortunately, this worker is expected to make a full recovery. Emergency crews responded to a call from the DuPont facility at 4:00 a.m. regarding a chemical leak involving methyl mercaptan at the Crop Protection Unit. The crews were able to contain the leak within a few hours.

Methyl mercaptan is used to odorize gas for safety purposes and leaves behind a putrid, but harmless smell. The chemical leak caused fumes to be released into the air. According to officials from the city of La Porte and the DuPont facility, the fumes were not dangerous to the public. The fumes, however, are dangerous when large quantities are present in a relatively small area. Residents near the plant complained of a funny smell in the air, but were not in any danger from the fumes.

Immediately after the accident, the chemical plant manager did not know what caused the accident and did not want to discuss the details of the chemicals involved. This is not the first time that a DuPont facility has been involved in a chemical accident. In 2010, at a one of their facilities in West Virginia, three different chemicals were released in the air over the course of two days, resulting in the death of one worker.

Officials Investigate Facility and Chemical Leak

The Chemical Safety Board, which is responsible for investigating chemical accidents and issuing reports, responded quickly. Within days of the accident, the Chemical Safety Board visited the La Porte facility to investigate and compile the data needed to issue any recommendations for preventing future accidents.

While the board can sometimes take up to a year to investigate an accident and issue a report, the Board did not waste any time with this investigation. Officials have uncovered four main issues surrounding the facility’s valve and ventilation system:

  • Interconnections between supply lines resulted in unexpected toxic leaks;
  • The facility’s chemical vent system failed to safely remove the harmful vapor;
  • Workers were exposed to the chemicals because the vent drain was open to the atmosphere; and
  • The vent system had a faulty design.

This accident marks the third deadly accident at a DuPont facility in the last five years. Rafael Moure-Eraso, Chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, said, “What we are seeing here in this incident in LaPorte is definitely a problem of safety culture in the corporation of DuPont.”

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If you or a loved one has been injured in a chemical spill accident, a Houston chemical spill attorney can help protect your rights. Zehl & Associates employs a team of attorneys who have extensive experience helping workers injured in chemical spills obtain compensation for their injuries.

Contact the Houston chemical spill attorneys at Zehl & Associates today for a free consultation. You can either call us at 1-888-603-3636 or visit one of our offices located in Houston and Austin.