911 calls of deadly DuPont chemical leak released

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter

LA PORTE, Texas - Local 2 Investigates is learning new information about a toxic chemical leak at a DuPont plant near La Porte that killed four workers and injured a fifth.

Local 2 Investigates has reviewed a 4-minute long 911 call that raises some interesting questions. It is now clear that in the moments immediately following the toxic gas release at the La Porte DuPont plant Saturday morning, a plant shift supervisor wasn't completely clear about the nature of the emergency on his hands.

Dispatcher: La Porte 911, what is the address of your emergency?
DuPont Supervisor: We have a possible Casualty 5, is what my medics are telling me.Dispatcher: How did this happen. Is it chemical related?
DuPont Supervisor: Uh, I am not certain.
Dispatcher: OK sir I need to know what's going on before I send.
DuPont Supervisor: They're doing a rescue right now. We have some injured people. I am not sure if chemicals are involved or not. I'm just relaying the message.

Curiously though while lacking a full understanding of the situation at hand, including the type of poison gas that had escaped, DuPont's shift supervisor was still confident enough to declare the public wasn't at risk.

Dispatcher: And you don't know what kind of chemical it is?
DuPont Supervisor No ma'am. I have got my team trying to determine that right now.
Dispatcher: Is this any risk to the public is it going to be a possible escaping from your premises?
DuPont Supervisor: No ma'am.
Dispatcher: No threat?
DuPont Supervisor: No ma'am.

The Chemical Safety Board, an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents, has a team of individuals inside the plant Monday. Interviews of shift workers and potential witnesses are taking place.

"Until the particular building is clear it's unsafe right now to go in there. So until that's fixed I couldn't tell you what it looks like," said John Morawetz with the International Chemical Workers Union.

One investigator described the area where the leak occurred as a 5-stories tall structure with piping, valves and other equipment.

"One accident like this is one accident too many, that's why there are strict regulations on the books regulating methyl mercaptan and the other chemicals that are used on this plant. Now, are those regulations strict enough? Were they enforced properly? How did company respond to those regulations?" said Daniel Horowitz with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.

Those are questions so far without answers.

The identities have been released of all four workers who died in a tragic accident at the DuPont Plant near La Porte early Saturday.  The victims have been identified as Crystle Rae Wise, Wade Baker, and brothers Robert (Bobby) Tisnado and Gilbert (Gibby) Tisnado.

In July 2010, a chemical release at a DuPont plant in West Virginia killed a worker and the UCSB later found DuPont made mistakes.

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