Federal probe: Safety problems at DuPont plant where 4 died

EMBED </>More Videos

A federal investigation into a poisonous gas leak that killed four workers the chemical plant found weaknesses a the facility's safety planning and procedures. (KTRK)

Pasadena resident Gilbert Tisnado has anxiously awaited the interim report from the Chemical Safety Board that details to mistakes made in a deadly November 2014 gas leak.

"You're not supposed to bury your children, you know," he told Eyewitness News. "You're not supposed to bury children, which is pretty hard."

His sons, Gilbert and Robert, were among the four people killed in a deadly gas leak at a DuPont Insecticide Plant in LaPorte last November. He too worked at that plant.

"You go in there with the understanding that people are watching your back, that everybody is concerned about your safety," he said. "That's not necessarily true you know."

The workers died after being exposed to methyl mercaptan, a raw material used to manufacture an insecticide. Workers did not realize they were releasing the deadly gas that had built up in piping and a storage tank as they drained waste gas from other piping at the unit.

The new report, released Wednesday morning, uncovered "flawed safety procedures, design problems and inadequate planning."

"In general there's a common belief among the investigative team that all accidents are preventable," said the CSB's lead investigator Dan Tilemma.

Tilemma said the report offers DuPont areas in which it can make substantive changes.

"We talk about making sure the building was safe for workers, making sure there is adequate ventilation, making sure there is effective gas detection and response to gas detectors," he said.

"If your people are not well trained they can't execute properly," said Tisnado. "You've got to have the proper training."

The report does not lay blame, allege mismanagement or negligence. Tisnado said there is enough blame to go around. He tries to focus, instead, on moving forward for his wife, his surviving children and grandchildren.

"I can't scream. I can't yell," he said. "I can't blame God. I can't. It happened. I've always said the most important thing we can do in this world is to learn to accept what God puts before us."

Earlier this year, the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration criticized safety procedures at the plant and said the deaths were preventable. OSHA has fined DuPont $372,000 for various safety violations and placed the company on its severe violator enforcement program.

The Chemical Safety Board proposed five safety recommendations in its interim report, including conducting engineering evaluations of the pressure relief and air ventilation systems in the unit where the workers died and ensuring participation by workers in the implementation of the recommendations.

The board investigates industrial and chemical accidents, but it has no regulatory authority and can only make recommendations on accident prevention.

James O'Connor, the La Porte plant manager, said in a statement Wednesday that the company is addressing the board's recommendations and cooperating with investigators. The plant is closed, "and will remain so until DuPont has executed a comprehensive and integrated plan to safely resume operations," he said.
Related Topics:
chemical leakLa Porte
(Copyright ©2018 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.)