About 23,000 pounds of a flammable, acidic, toxic chemical escaped in the building where four DuPont workers recently died at a pesticide plant in La Porte, the company reported Friday.
That amount of gas could quickly displace the air in an enclosed space, leading to asphyxiation, which medical examiners identified as the cause of the workers' deaths. Although the company has not disclosed how quickly the liquid material escaped and vaporized, it's enough that, if it happened at once, it could fill two Olympic-sized swimming pools.
"The displacement of oxygen would be very severe and very quick," said a former DuPont engineer familiar with the plant and who spoke on the condition of anonymity, adding "within the time it takes you to take a couple of breaths ... that's how quick it is, and you have no idea what's happening to you. Just all of the sudden you're unconscious."
The company was required to submit the report to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Although DuPont disclosed the amount of gas in a three-paragraph news release, it declined to release the full report. Commission offices were closed Friday....That works out to be about 2900 gallons of the material, if my math is correct. I understand that the vessel was under pressure, but I'm still a bit confused as to what happened with the incident. I presume the CSB report will tell all...