The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) will convene a public meeting on Wednesday, September 30, 2015, in Houston, Texas, at The Hilton Americas – Houston Hotel from 6 to 9 p.m. CDT to hear and vote on investigators’ findings and safety recommendations from the November 2014 chemical release at the DuPont La Porte facility that killed four workers.
Three other DuPont workers were injured in the industrial accident when 24,000 lbs. of methyl mercaptan, a highly toxic chemical used to make insecticide, filled an enclosed building where crews had been trying to clear clogged pipeline.
What went wrong
At the meeting, the Board will release the investigators’ analysis of what went wrong and vote during the meeting on a broad set of safety recommendations to protect workers and the public from a recurrence of such an accident.
At an earlier public hearing in July, investigators expressed concern about the safety processes DuPont had in place for all its plants. They noted that this was the third fatal accident at a DuPont facility and that during this investigation smaller releases of toxic chemicals took place at La Porte and other DuPont sites. DuPont is one of the largest and oldest chemical companies in the world.
"We will push for changes"
Vanessa Allen Sutherland, the new CSB chairperson, said, "The CSB team investigating this tragic accident has produced comprehensive safety recommendations that the Board will take up in Houston. We will push for changes to safeguard both those who work with these chemicals and those who live in nearby communities, not just in La Porte but at sites across the country. I am encouraged that my fellow Board Members have immersed themselves in the report so that we may have a productive meeting.”
Three hundred workers were employed at the site, where the production of the insecticide Lannate has been shut down since the accident. Crews had been trying for several days to restart production in an enclosed and unventilated building where two rooftop fans were not working. Toxic vapors that escaped through open valves killed two workers and two more who tried to come to their rescue.
After DuPont received a staff draft of the proposed safety recommendations in June 2015, the company agreed to hold off plans to restart the La Porte facility in August 2015.
Open to the public
The meeting is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is not required, but to assure adequate seating attendees are strongly encouraged to pre-register by emailing their names and affiliations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The meeting will also be webcast live and without charge. Details about the webcast will be available at www.csb.gov closer to the time of the meeting.
The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents. The agency's board members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.