DuPont to Pay $700K for N.Y. Plant Explosion

     (CN) – Chemical company DuPont will pay the federal government for a fatal fire and explosion at an upstate New York plant in 2010, the EPA said Thursday.
     The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., or DuPont, agreed to pay $724,000 in a Clean Air Act settlement for a Nov. 9, 2010 explosion at its Tonawanda, N.Y. chemical plant.
     The explosion was caused by the ignition of flammable vinyl fluoride that seeped into a 10,000-gallon tank, according to the EPA. One worker was killed and another was badly burned. Government investigations found that DuPont overlooked hazards at its facility in violation of the Clean Air Act’s general duty clause.
     The company’s environmental violations have been addressed, the government says. DuPont reportedly spent more than $6 million in safety-related improvements at the Tonawanda plant, which went toward upgrading the facility’s process for analyzing vinyl fluoride hazards, changing equipment configuration to avoid dangerous gas buildup, and installing new protective equipment.
     In addition, $112,000 of the settlement payment will be spent on training and vapor and radiation detection equipment for the local fire department, according to the EPA.
     Judith Enck, EPA regional administrator, said investigation of the DuPont explosion shows the importance of preparing for chemical incidents.
     “It is imperative that DuPont and other businesses make protecting human health and the environment their top priority. The chemical explosion that happened at DuPont in Tonawanda must never happen again,” Enck said.
     The settlement announcement comes a day after the U.S. Chemical Safety Board said an ongoing investigation into a chemical leak that killed four workers at a DuPont plant in La Porte, Texas last year has revealed safety shortcomings at that facility.

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