Faulty Equipment Likely Cause of Four Deaths at DuPont and Co. Pesticide Plant



Austin Personal Injury Lawyers

Austin Personal Injury Lawyers - Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC

Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) September 9, 2015 – The DuPont and Co. pesticide plant, 25 miles from downtown Houston, took the lives of four workers.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the DuPont and Co. pesticide plant that claimed the lives of four workers had a history of reporting regular malfunctions to their ventilation systems at the La Porte facility. Those malfunctions had previously put workers at risk by exposing them to dangerous fumes. Environmental issues were reported and on record; the plant has been cited more than 50 times in recent years for illegally releasing chemicals and other violations. However, the plant did not have a record of safety violations.

Other documents, obtained by the newspaper, revealed testimony by U.S. Chemical Safety Board Chairman Moure-Eraso that maintenance work at the La Porte plant was conducted without using respirators.

“If that turns out to be the case, then their previously clean safety record is notched with a safety violation,” said Austin personal injury attorney Brooks Schuelke. “Furthermore, it points to negligence on the part of the plant and could be used in court if relatives choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit.”
The four employees were asphyxiated by methyl mercaptan, the chemical used to give natural gas its offensive rotten egg odor. Apparently, the gas leaked into a building at 4 a.m. and it was two hours before the leak was contained. The coroner’s report suggested workers might not have been wearing full safety equipment.

Additionally, it appeared that despite the prior reports to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, there was no evidence of an investigation being carried out by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This accident is the third time DuPont has been investigated since 2010 and they are the only plant to be subjected to multiple Chemical Safety Board investigations.

Subsequent investigations have revealed that faulty piping allowed the methyl mercaptan to gain access to a line designated for venting unwanted gases. Workers regularly drained water from the line, but on that occasion were caught unawares as deadly fumes spread into the building. Full safety gear, including respirators, may have saved them.

Accidents such as this one often occur due to negligence and carelessness. “Negligence kills, and the families of the four men who died that day in the La Porte DuPont pesticide plant may wish to consider filing wrongful death lawsuits,” Schuelke said.

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