Last November, four workers at a DuPont Co. plant in La Porte, Texas were
killed after being exposed to a deadly airborne chemical called methyl
mercaptan, a substance used by the plant to produce insecticide. The accident
occurred early in the morning when a worker tried to drain what she thought
was water from a clogged pipeline (a routine procedure) when the chemical
flowed into the building. A total of 23,000 pounds of methyl mercaptan,
which workers also refer to as MeSH, was released, immediately killing
the worker and three other people who came to her aid. If the chemicals
had not been quickly controlled, the major gas leak could have sparked
a fire or caused an explosion capable of poisoning the air in surrounding areas.
The accident was ultimately blamed on a flawed network of valves and pipes,
a poor ventilation system, and an inadequate warning system. (At the time
of the accident, the ventilation fans were not operating, and one was
even partially dismantled. However, investigators found that even if they
had been operational, they would not have provided enough protection to
keep workers safe.)
While DuPont has been praised in the past for safety by industry watchdogs,
the plant has been cited dozens of times in the past several years for
dangerous chemical releases. The La Porte plant incident is one of three
investigations of fatal accidents within the past five years. The Occupational
Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has placed DuPont on its “severe
violator enforcement program” and has proposed fines totaling $372,000.
Fearless Representation for Industrial Accident Victims and Families
The tragic deaths at the DuPont facility were entirely avoidable. Unbeknownst
to the victims and the rest of the workers in their shift, a delivery
of chemicals from a few days earlier had been improperly loaded into the
process tank, resulting in the wrong concentration. Combined with chronic
malfunctions and flaws, the broken ventilation system, and the wintry
weather that caused the methyl mercaptan to clog the pipe, this was a
disaster waiting to happen.
Industrial accidents can be some of the most devastating types of accidents,
often resulting in catastrophic injuries and
fatalities. They are especially likely to occur in Texas’s burgeoning oil and
gas industries, and are often the result of lax safety procedures. Fires,
explosions, and machinery mishaps are far too prevalent in today’s
news, and regulators are cracking down on dangerous workplaces throughout
Texas and the rest of the country.
The Houston catastrophic injury attorneys at Fibich, Leebron, Copeland
& Briggs have dedicated themselves to holding negligent companies
accountable for preventable workplace accidents. Companies have a duty
to keep their employees safe, and any failure to take reasonable measures
to do so makes them financially responsible for any accidents caused by
If you have lost a friend or family member in an industrial accident, you
should know that you have options to pursue justice on behalf of your
loved one. We are ready to stand in your corner and fight for the compensation
you deserve for the loss of love, guidance, and emotional and financial
support you used to enjoy with your spouse, child, sibling, or parent.
We invite you to discuss your case with our caring, compassionate team
during an initial consultation.
Please call us today at (713) 489-6566.