For the second time in less than a year, there was an accidental release of the chemical aniline at the DuPont Beaumont Works site on Texas 347 between Beaumont and Nederland.
According to a statement from Aaron H. Woods, regional manager for DuPont Operations Public Affairs, “On Oct. 1, aniline was released from a vessel at the DuPont Beaumont Works site. The release did not result in exposure to the community, and we are not aware of any employee exposures or other safety issues resulting from the release. The material was contained, and DuPont completed the cleanup process on Friday, Oct. 5. We are investigating the cause of the release so we can make corrections to prevent reoccurrence.”
The Examiner has learned that at least 20 electricians were laid off after the release. They were employed by Newtron Electrical and included many union electricians from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. An IBEW source said DuPont has indicated the electricians would be rehired in approximately two weeks.
Maintenance workers at the adjacent Lucite facility were pulled off the job as a precaution following the release but returned to work the next day.
The statement from DuPont spokesman Woods also said, “The amount (of aniline) released was below the TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) ‘reportable quantity’; however, DuPont provided the TCEQ with a courtesy notification of the release event.”
Andrea Morrow of TCEQ Media Relations confirmed the agency received that notification and accepted the amount of aniline released was below the reportable quantity.
A more serious release occurred at the same facility Nov. 3, 2011, when a relief valve failed and 1,000 pounds of aniline were spewed into the air. The brownish-orange liquid coated much of the north end of the industrial complex, which includes the Lucite and Pandora plants.
Aniline is used to make a wide variety of products such as polyurethane foam, agricultural chemicals, synthetic dyes, antioxidants, stabilizers for the rubber industry, herbicides, varnishes and explosives.
Initial reports indicated no workers were impacted by the release, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) who monitors employee safety issues.
“No report was made on the Oct. 1 incident,” said Elizabeth Todd, regional director of the Office of Public Affairs for the U.S. Department of Labor. She added that OSHA policy required that three or more injuries or one fatality must be reported within an eight-hour period.
— James Shannon