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DuPont, EPA Reach Settlement After Fatal Chemical Explosion

DuPont logoDuPont has agreed to pay a fine of $724,000 in settlement of Clean Air Act violations relating to a fatal fire and explosion at its chemical plant in Tonawanda, New York.

In the settlement, DuPont will spend $112,000 to purchase vapor and radiation detection equipment for the local fire department and to pay for training. Since the fire and explosion that occurred on Nov. 9, 2010, DuPont has made about $6.8 million in chemical safety-related improvements at the facility, according to the EPA.

According to the US Chemical Safety Board, on Nov. 9, 2010, the ignition of flammable vinyl fluoride that had seeped inside a 10,000 gallon process tank at the DuPont facility resulted in an explosion that killed one worker and badly burned another. The US Chemical Safety Board concluded that hazards had been overlooked by DuPont, which the EPA’s investigation confirmed.

Vinyl fluoride is used to make plastic products. Exposure to the substance can cause health risks, including potentially cancer.

The EPA identified several areas of the facility’s operations that had been in violation of the Clean Air Act, all of which were addressed by DuPont prior to the settlement. DuPont installed equipment and developed more stringent safety procedures to reduce the risk of a similar explosion; worked with the EPA, corrected its identified deficiencies; and has completed a number of chemical safety-related improvements at the facility, among other improvements.

On Nov. 15, 2014, four workers died at a DuPont chemical plant after a leak caused an explosion. The plant had a history of safety violations that stretch back several years, the Texas Tribune discovered in a review of state records.


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