DuPont will pay a $3.1 million civil penalty under an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice for violations of EPA’s risk management program (RMP) provisions. The violations led to an accident that killed four workers in Texas in late 2014.
The accident occurred when nearly 11,000 kg of methyl mercaptan were released at a pesticide manufacturing unit at DuPont’s La Porte plant. Because of a series of maintenance errors, a jerry-rigged piping system transferred the flammable and toxic compound to plant areas where it should not have been. Two unsuspecting workers died when they attempted to clear a vent that they didn’t realize contained methyl mercaptan; two others died when coming to their aid.
According to EPA’s complaint, DuPont’s actions violated 22 separate provisions of the Clean Air Act’s RMP. The alleged violations include failing to develop and implement written operating procedures, adequately implement management of change procedures, and implement safe work practices. The citations also include alleged violations of mechanical integrity regulations...A disappointing aspect of these fines is of their relative size - will DuPont really miss 3 million bucks? Probably not. I wonder if there's an argument to be made for changing fines to be a percentage of gross revenue?
(Previous posts on the La Porte incident here and here.)