Investigation to begin in chemical facility deaths, previous violations

Chemical Safety Board will investigate DuPont facility incident

By Jace Larson - Investigative Reporter

NEAR LA PORTE, Texas - A rapid response team from the Chemical Safety Board is expected to arrive Sunday morning to begin investigating the fatal incident at the DuPont facility, which killed four workers and sent a fifth to the hospital, Local 2 Investigates has confirmed.

The Chemical Safety Board investigates chemical accidents and issues a final report with recommendations. The investigations can take up to a year and the agency cannot force companies to comply with its findings. It's up to companies whether to implement the recommendations.

The team will interview witnesses, check equipment and conduct testing.

CHEMICAL RELEASED

The chemical released was methyl mercaptan. It's an ingredient in plastics and pesticides. It's also used as a jet fuel additive. When heated, it emits toxic fumes. Exposure to methyl mercaptan in a room that is poorly ventilated can cause asphyxiation, Local 2 Investigates has learned.

The Chemical Safety Board will also look through the company's inspection history for signs of problems.

HISTORY OF VIOLATIONS

Local 2 Investigates found a violation under the state's Clean Water Act in August that resulted in a $26,000 penalty.

A 2012 violation of clean water rules also resulted in a $91,000 fine.

The company faced a formal administrative action in October for violation of a permit requirement. There was no penalty in that case, Local 2 Investigates has learned.

Local 2 also discovered a January 2010 incident at a DuPont facility in West Virginia. Over two days, three different chemicals were released.

One worker was killed.

If you have information about this incident that you would like to pass along to investigative reporter Jace Larson, email or text him at jlarson@kprc.com or 713-635-9941. 

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