Fatal Toxic Chemical Release at DuPont
United States Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigations Board
1 Denver Federal Center Way, Bldg. 21B
Denver, CO 80225
On November 15, 2014, approximately 24,000 pounds of highly toxic methyl mercaptan released inside an insecticide production units manufacturing building at E.I. du Pont de Nemours (DuPont) chemical manufacturing facility in La Porte, Texas. The release killed three operators and a shift supervisor inside the manufacturing building. They died from a combination of asphyxia and acute exposure (inhalation) to methyl mercaptan.
The CSB investigated this La Porte incident, making it the CSBs third investigation of a fatal DuPont incident in five years. The CSB investigation identified significant process safety management deficiencies at the DuPont La Porte facility, including delayed maintenance of safety-critical equipment, lack of written procedures, poor hazard analysis practices, lack of implementation of important inherently safer design concepts, and a lack of hazard recognition.
The CSB determined that the DuPont La Porte incident offers key findings and lessons for the chemical industry including those regarding emergency response and process safety management systems. For example, the CSB found that a robust emergency response program is needed to mitigate emergencies and to protect the health of workers, the public, and emergency responders. Additionally, the CSB found that a process safety management system and its corresponding programs must be implemented effectively for a company to reap the accompanying process safety benefits. The final investigation report on the DuPont La Porte incident will discuss more of these lessons in detail to aid companies in preventing accidents.
Key words: Emergency Response, Process Safety Management, and Incident Investigation