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UPDATE: Chemical Safety Board Deploys Investigators to DuPont Plant in La Porte, Texas

US Chemical Safety Board, November 17, 2014

A team from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has arrived in Houston to begin its investigation into the fatal chemical release at the La Porte DuPont Plant. Five of eight team members plan to receive a briefing from company officials this evening, while the full team will begin work Monday morning.

The accident at DuPont’s facility, located east of Houston, killed four workers and injured a fifth when methyl mercaptan, a toxic chemical used in the company’s insecticide and fungicide manufacturing process, was released.

The investigation team is headed up by co-team leads Don Holmstrom, director of the CSB Western Regional Office in Denver, and Investigation Supervisor Johnnie Banks. CSB Managing Director Dr. Daniel Horowitz is accompanying the team.

CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso said, “Our heartfelt condolences go out to the families of the deceased workers. Our goal in investigating this accident is to determine the root cause and make recommendations to prevent any similar accidents throughout the industry.”

Managing Director Horowitz said the team looks forward to the company’s cooperation with the CSB investigation.

“Our initial investigation plans are to examine the accident site, conduct initial interviews with witnesses, if any, as well key operators and managers, and to request documentation on a range of relevant activities, such as maintenance histories of key equipment, training, and work schedules,” Dr. Horowitz said.

He added, “Eventually we will construct a timeline of events leading to this tragedy, and issue safety recommendations, if needed. Typically our investigations can take a year or more to complete and be approved and released by the board, but we strive to release key facts and findings as soon as we can as the investigation continues, in order to keep the public updated.”

The CSB has previously investigated four accidents at DuPont facilities; In January 2010 three accidents occurred within a 33 hour period, include a release of deadly phosgene gas which killed one worker at the DuPont Plant in Belle, West Virginia. That same year a hot work accident at the DuPont facility outside of Buffalo, New York fatally injured one worker. The CSB’s investigations and safety videos concerning those incidents can be found at www.csb.gov.

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The agency’s board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.

The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Visit our website, www.csb.gov.

For more information please email CSB public affairs at public@csb.gov or contact Sandy Gilmour, Public Affairs, cell 202-251-5496. CSB Managing Director Daniel Horowitz (included in public@csb.gov) will be in Houston coordinating with media and other parties during the initial deployment.


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