A federal grand jury indicted E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company Inc. (DuPont) and its former employee who ran DuPont’s Insecticide Business Unit (IBU) at DuPont’s facility in La Porte, Texas.
The indictment stems from the November 15, 2014 release from the IBU of methyl mercaptan, which injured several workers, killing four.
Failing to Follow Company Safety Procedures
The indictment alleges DuPont and the former employee knowingly failed to follow DuPont safety procedures. Several federal statutes and regulations make violating company safety procedures violations of federal law. Knowingly ignoring company safety procedures can be punishable as a criminal offense.
For example, federal regulations direct companies to develop and follow “management of change” procedures. The employee allegedly led development of a plan to divert a large volume of methyl mercaptan gas into a waste gas pipe system during the day before and night of the fatal incident. The indictment alleges the employee knowingly ignored DuPont’s “management of change” procedures in developing the plan and that using the procedures would have identified the plan’s unacceptable risks. At a minimum, “management of change” procedures allegedly would have alerted DuPont employees of the risks and prohibited them from releasing methyl mercaptan to the atmosphere without proper safety precautions.
Company Procedures Have the Force of Federal Law
The federal regulations make clear that company safety procedures are not aspirational; they have the force of federal law. Ignoring them can kill or injure employees and can lead to serious criminal charges against those that ignore them.
To see the US Department of Justice’s news release on the indictment https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdtx/pr/dupont-and-former-employee-charged-2014-fatal-la-porte-incident