DuPont plant in West Virginia remains shut down after accidents

04 February 2010 23:12  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--DuPont’s specialty chemical plant in Belle, West Virginia remained under a voluntary safety stand-down on Thursday, as authorities continued to investigate recent accidents at the plant, the company said.

The stand-down was implemented on 22 January. In addition to the DuPont investigation, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) are conducting their own investigations at the site.

The investigations are a result of the three accidents - including a fatality - at the Belle facility in West Virginia.

A worker died in January from phosgene exposure at the plant, and three leaks in two days led the company to shut down most of its units.

The CSB said it was aware of six other releases from the plant since December 2006.

DuPont said it is cooperating with the investigations. Reports indicated the shutdown could last two weeks, but DuPont said the company has no set timeline.

The closure was expected to have some minimal impact on the feedstock markets, as DuPont would not need raw materials such as acetone while shut down, a chemical trader said.

Industry sources said the plant went on allocation with its suppliers so it would not have to take normal volumes of material during the shutdown. This could not be confirmed with DuPont.

The facility is owned by Lucite International but operated by DuPont. Last year, DuPont and Lucite had to pay a $2m (€1.4m) civil penalty to resolve Clean Air Act violations at a sulphuric acid unit of the plant, along with agreeing to shut down the unit by 1 April.

The plant makes specialty chemical intermediates, plastic monomers and agricultural chemicals.

($1 = €0.72)

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By: Heather McGuire Doyle
+1 713 525 2653

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