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CSB: DuPont knew about issues that led to fatal incident

July 13, 2011

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Charleston, WV – Numerous safety deficiencies led to a string of unintentional chemical releases that killed one worker at the DuPont facility in Belle, WV, last year, according to a draft report (.pdf file) from the Chemical Safety Board.

The report, released July 7, examines three incidents that occurred within 48 hours. On Jan. 22, 2010, operators discovered that 2,000 pounds of the flammable gas methyl chloride had been leaking for five days. The next morning, workers found a leak in a pipe carrying oleum, or fuming sulfuric acid. Later that day, a phosgene hose burst, exposing a worker to the toxic gas. The worker later died.

CSB said the hose should have been changed at least once a month, but had not been replaced in seven months. Additionally, the hose lining was susceptible to corrosion, an issue DuPont was warned about in 1987.

DuPont had considered building an enclosure around the phosgene area to boost safety, but opted not to because of the cost, the report said.

CSB is seeking public comment (.pdf file) on the draft report through Aug. 22.

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