DuPont Faces Feds After Plant Fatality

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 @ 02:07 PM gHale

Three chemical releases at the DuPont Belle plant in January, including one incident that left one employee dead has resulted in the company getting six citations and a proposed $43,000 fine Monday from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
OSHA initiated an investigation after DuPont employee Danny Fish suffered a fatal exposure to phosgene due to a ruptured hose at the Belle, WVA plant. The agency subsequently expanded its investigation to cover two additional chemical releases at the plant involving oleum and hexazinone.
OSHA said DuPont failed to:
• Properly inspect piping used to transfer phosgene.
• Perform a thorough process hazard analysis for its phosgene operation.
• Train workers on hazards associated with phosgene.
• Thoroughly inspect all high-risk sections of piping used to transfer oleum.
• Properly install energized electrical conductors.
The agency issues a serious citation when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard the employer knew or should have known about.
“OSHA’s process safety management standard requires that companies anticipate the possible hazards associated with processes involving highly hazardous chemicals like phosgene and oleum,” said David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. “Workers are left vulnerable to life-threatening or permanent injuries and illness when these processes are not done in a thorough and comprehensive way.”
OSHA also cited DuPont for five other-than-serious violations for what it said was improper recordkeeping.
“We have received the citations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration related to the January incidents at the Belle plant and are in the process of reviewing them,” the company said in a prepared statement Monday. “We have cooperated fully with OSHA throughout its investigation and continue to cooperate with the other federal and state agencies that are still conducting their own investigations.”
Last month DuPont said its investigation showed that the phosgene leak that led to the death of Carl Daniel “Danny” Fish was the result of a hose that failed. Fish, 58, of Gallagher, was a 32-year plant employee.
“Our investigation concluded that several factors combined to cause the hose to fail, including the length of time the hose was in service, physical corrosion concealed by the manufacturer’s label, and pressure buildup in the line,” DuPont said last month.
On Monday the company said, “As an outcome of our investigations we have been putting measures in place to improve our processes and prevent similar incidents in the future. Many of these measures are complete and others are ongoing.
“Safety is a core value at DuPont and is our top priority. We are committed to operating all of our facilities safely and in full compliance every day.”

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