The U.S. Chemical Safety Board, the federal agency that investigates chemical accidents, has sent a team to a Houston-area industrial plant where a chemical leak killed four people. The 7-member team was sent to the DuPont plant in La Porte where the leak of methyl mercaptan killed four employees and hospitalized another. The pre-dawn leak occurred on Saturday Nov. 15. It was contained in about two hours. At press time, the cause of the leak had not been determined. The chemical was used at the plant to create insecticides and fungicides, according to DuPont. The company says it is cooperating with local, state and federal officials in investigating the incident.
Two workers, who were brothers, were killed. They worked at the DuPont Chemical Refinery’s crop unit. Reportedly, one brother went to the aid of the other and both were overcome by toxic fumes. Also killed were a supervisor with 40 years’ experience and an employee, who had only been on the job at the plant for eight months. A fifth employee was injured and taken to the hospital, but released after treatment for inhalation of toxic fumes.
The methyl mercaptan, began leaking from a valve around 4 a.m. in a unit at the plant in La Porte, which is located about 20 miles east of Houston. According to plant officials, the release was contained by 6 a.m. Methyl mercaptan was used at the plant to create crop-protection products such as insecticides and fungicides, according to DuPont. There will be litigation arising from this incident.
Sources: Insurance Journal, The Houston Chronicle, The Greeley Tribune and Claims Journal, Fox News
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