DuPont Plant Manager Admits Lack of Safety Played a Role in Recent Deaths

In a public meeting this month, Randy Clements, a manager of DuPont’s La Porte plant, addressed lapses in safety procedures that played a part in the deaths of four workers at the plant last November. The special meeting held within the La Porte Citizen’s Advisory Council (CAC) was called to address further citations issued on DuPont by the Safety and Health Administration for persistent safety violations at the pesticide unit. The CAC, formed within the community to address industrial disasters, aims to increase communication between residents and industry leaders, but Clements would not field any oral questions or concerns at the meeting due to pending litigation. Attendees were instead encouraged to write their thoughts down.

Although the accident is still under investigation by the Chemical Safety Board, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Clements reported on preliminary findings from the company’s ongoing internal investigation. The former unit manager said the genesis of the fatal chemical leak was found to be from 2011, when a scrubber to decrease pollution was installed and inspected but not in a manner that would anticipate liquid methyl mercaptan entering the vent system. When water was introduced to this chemical, the combination formed ice like blockages in the liquid transfer lines which forced plant workers to clear the plugs by leaving transfer lines open. This in turn allowed large quantities to be released through the vent system. On the morning of the November accident, the quantities reached a deadly extreme.

Clements concluded that the plant was enacting new hazard analyses and safety training incorporating this new information. Attendees voiced multiple concerns in writing and to the Houston Chronicle regarding maintenance of other improbable, but potentially fatal, scenarios in the plant’s future. With four people already dead and heavy litigation on the way, the community can expect big changes from DuPont.

Benny Agosto, Jr. is a partner at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner in Houston, Texas. For over 65 years, Abraham Watkins has successfully represented injured people and families who fall victim to catastrophes. Our attorneys have the knowledge, experience and resources necessary to obtain just compensation their clients. For more information, please contact the office of Benny Agosto, Jr. at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, by letter at 800 Commerce Street, Houston, Texas 77002, or by phone at (713) 222-7211.