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La Porte fatal chemical release getting more regulator focus

It's closing in on the one-year anniversary of the deadly chemical leak that claimed the lives of workers at the DuPont plant in La Porte, Texas. Four people died in that incident, asphyxiating on toxic methyl mercaptan.

As we noted in one of our posts about the events of that day in November 2014, the circumstances that led to the deaths of the victims resulted in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposing civil penalties against the chemical conglomerate of less than $100,000. Another report since then by says the fine came in at $372,000.

In the view of some legal and industry observers, regardless of what number you go with, it amounted to barely a slap on the wrist for a company of DuPont's size.

But that doesn't appear to be the end of the story. In addition to the claims of wrongful death that have reportedly been filed by the families of some of the victims, it appears that the U.S. Chemical Safety Board has plans to shine a brighter spotlight on the matter.

A CSB meeting is scheduled for the end of this month in Houston. As part of that session, a vote is expected to be taken on whether or not to release the agency's official report on what happened in La Porte.

The media is doing what it can to put pressure on either DuPont or the CSB or both to make their separate investigation reports public. The Houston Press notes that there are indications that DuPont's probe puts the blame for what happened squarely on the workers themselves.

Meanwhile, the CSB has issued a synopsis of its own investigation and it raises concerns that DuPont's commitment to general safety is lacking.

In light of the competing perspectives, it would seem that release of both reports would be necessary. What do you think?

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