NEWSWATCH
CHEMICAL SAFETY
 
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CSB: Flawed Safety Features, Design Problems Contributed to Deaths at Insecticide Plant
U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) investigators have found that flawed safety procedures, design problems, and inadequate planning contributed to the fatal chemical release at the DuPont insecticide plant in La Porte, Texas, on Nov. 15, 2014. Four workers were killed and another was injured when methyl mercaptan, a toxic chemical used in the plant’s insecticide and fungicide manufacturing process, was released into the air in the enclosed manufacturing building. CSB’s investigation was ongoing as this issue of The Synergist went to press, but the board unanimously approved the investigators’ draft findings and recommendations on Sept. 30. The DuPont facility’s toxic gas detection system protects neither workers nor the public, investigators stated. They found that two rooftop ventilation fans were not working at the time of the incident even though an “urgent” work order was written nearly a month earlier. However, even working fans “probably would not have prevented a lethal atmosphere inside the building due to the large amount of toxic gas released,” investigators said. CSB investigators recommend that the DuPont facility assess potential inherently safer design options by conducting a comprehensive engineering analysis of the manufacturing building and the discharge of pressure relief systems with toxic chemical scenarios. DuPont should also conduct a robust engineering evaluation of the manufacturing building and the dilution air ventilation system to ensure that the building is safe for workers, and investigators recommend ensuring that the facility’s pressure relief system design is safe for workers and the public. In addition to its interim recommendations, CSB released a video animation of the chemical release at the La Porte facility that shows how the fatal accident occurred. For more information, see CSB’s Web page on the DuPont La Porte facility toxic chemical release.
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Chemical Release Animation
Video Source: CSB (total run time: 8:06)
Chemical Release Animation
Video source: CSB (total run time: 8:06)