DuPont Issues Statement on Deadly Chemical Leak at La Porte Plant

DuPont, November 17, 2014

DuPont released a company statement today addressing the chemical leak that killed 4 workers at its chemical complex in La Porte, Texas over the weekend. 

The United States Chemical Safety Board has dispatched investigators to the facility to examine the accident site, conduct initial interviews with witnesses, if any, as well as 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,” according to CSB managing director Dr. Daniel Horowitz. Unconfirmed reports suggest that a leaky valve was the source of the release and partly to blame for the accident.

DuPont's statement on La Porte (Texas) facility incident is as follows:

There are no words to fully express the loss we feel or the concern and sympathy we extend to the families of the four employees who died on November 15, and their co-workers. We continue to be directly engaged with the families to provide them every measure of support and assistance during this difficult time.

We are working closely with local, state and federal authorities as they conduct a thorough investigation into the incident, which will take some time. As part of that investigation, we are conducting our own top-to-bottom review of this incident and we will share what we learn with the relevant authorities.

We are reviewing the facts, and what we know is that at approximately 4 a.m. Central Time (CT) on November 15, the facility experienced a release of methyl mercaptan.  Methyl mercaptan is a product commonly used to odorize natural gas for safety purposes.

The release was contained, and after receiving an official determination by the Medical Examiner of four confirmed employee fatalities, we began notifying the employees’ families immediately.  Unfortunately, we were dealing with a contaminated unit that no qualified medical personnel could enter until deemed safe, because they were not trained in the use of the personal protective equipment (PPE). 

Our non-medically trained personnel who initially responded before 7 a.m. with the proper equipment reported the employees as non-responsive and likely fatalities.  It was on that basis that the unit was barricaded for investigation just before 8 a.m. 

The incident scene was deemed safe to enter just before noon, and the fatalities were confirmed by the Medical Examiner around 1:30 p.m. We immediately began to inform families thereafter.

It is important to note that the investigation will be extremely thorough and will take some time to complete.  We will provide appropriate updates in the future.

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