Mercaptan Deaths

CSB says flawed safety procedures led to fatal November 2014 LaPorte, TX, chemical leak

An ongoing investigation by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) of the November 15, 2014, toxic chemical leak that killed four workers at an insecticide plant in La Porte, Texas, has uncovered flawed safety procedures, design problems and inadequate planning.

Nearly 24,000 pounds of deadly methyl mercaptan escaped in the middle of the night through two valves in a poorly ventilated manufacturing building.  In one area of the plant, operations personnel attempted to clear blocked piping. Later in a different area, two workers opened valves in response to what they believed was a routine, unrelated pressure problem. The two workers were killed when liquid methyl mercaptan drained from the open valves, filling the room with toxic vapor. One of those workers made a distress call, and two additional workers died responding to that call.

The Board is poised to take up and vote on investigators’ draft findings and recommendations at a public meeting on Wednesday night September 30 in Houston not far from the plant. The Board will also release an animation based on the team’s findings showing how the fatal accident occurred.

CSB Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland said the company "has long been regarded as a safety leader in the chemical industry, but this investigation has uncovered weaknesses or failures" in its safety planning and procedures.

"These interim recommendations lay out what the company at its La Porte facility should do to protect workers and the public," she said.

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.

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