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CSB investigates fatal chemical leak at Texas plant


Washington – The Chemical Safety Board has launched an investigation after four workers were killed by a chemical leak Nov. 15 at a DuPont plant in Texas.

A fifth worker was hospitalized after the leak of methyl mercaptan, which is commonly used to odorize natural gas for safety purposes. The leak was contained within DuPont’s chemical plant in La Porte, a community of about 34,000 residents located 25 miles east of Houston.

CSB stated that its team of eight investigators would begin work Nov. 17 at the facility.

CSB Managing Director Daniel Horowitz said in a press release that the agency will examine the incident site, interview witnesses and evaluate the maintenance histories of key equipment, as well as training and work schedules. CSB will create a timeline of the events that preceded the leak and issue safety recommendations as needed, he added.

In a statement released Nov. 17, DuPont La Porte plant manager Randall Clements said it appears that workers were responding to a leak in a valve at the time of the incident. Clements said DuPont’s internal investigation is ongoing and the company will cooperate with local, state and federal authorities.