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Fatal Toxic Chemical Release at Dupont

  • Type:
    Conference Presentation
  • Conference Type:
    AIChE Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety
  • Presentation Date:
    April 3, 2019
  • Duration:
    30 minutes
  • Skill Level:
  • PDHs:

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Fatal Toxic Chemical Release at DuPont

Tamara Qureshi

Attorney Advisor-Investigations

United States Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigations

1 Denver Federal Center Way, Bldg. 21B

Denver, CO 80225

(202) 763-8240


On November 15, 2014, approximately 24,000 pounds of highly
toxic methyl mercaptanreleased inside an insecticide production unit’s
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
CSB’s 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

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