Industry News

CSB board votes to investigate accidents at DuPont chemical facility

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents
CSB has voted to initiate an investigation of recent accidents at the DuPont chemical complex in Belle
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has voted to initiate an investigation of recent accidents at the DuPont chemical complex in Belle, West Virginia, following a release of highly toxic phosgene on Saturday that fatally injured a veteran operator.

DuPont officials told the CSB that a braided steel hose connected to a one-ton capacity phosgene tank suddenly ruptured, releasing phosgene into the air. An operator who was exposed to the chemical was transported to the hospital, where he died the following day.

The phosgene release followed two other accidents at the same plant this week, including an ongoing release of chloromethane from the plant's Hexazinone unit, which went undetected for several days, and a release of sulfur dioxide from a spent sulfuric acid unit. The plant announced over the weekend that it would be shutting down a number of process units immediately for safety checks.

Speaking for the three-member board, Member William E. Wright said: "The Board is concerned by these releases, which had tragic consequences, and will proceed with an investigation to understand why these unfortunate events occurred." Mr. Wright cautioned that the new case would likely delay efforts to complete other investigations that are being conducted by same investigative team, including those at the Bayer CropScience facility in Institute, West Virginia, and an Ohio environmental services company. Including DuPont, the CSB has 17 open investigations, the largest number in its 11-year history.

The DuPont Belle complex is regulated under the EPA Risk Management Program and the OSHA Process Safety Management standard because of the volume and hazards of the materials it handles

In voting to approve the investigation, the Board noted that the CSB was aware of six other releases from the plant since December 2006. The DuPont Belle complex is a large facility that is regulated under the EPA Risk Management Program and the OSHA Process Safety Management standard because of the volume and hazards of the materials it handles and the potential risk to workers and the community.

CSB investigator Johnnie Banks will lead the four-member team which is expected at the site on Tuesday.

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents. The agency's board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.

The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA.

Download PDF Version

Other news
Related links
Related news
View all news from

Browse News by

Product CategoryMonthCompany
 
CountryEvents