WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, released the following statement today on recent incidents at a DuPont chemical plant in Belle, WV:
“I want to extend my deep sympathy and prayers to the family, friends and longtime coworkers of Carl “Dan” Fish whose life was lost yesterday evening after being exposed to the chemical Phosgene at the Belle plant where he worked for more than 32 years.
“The news of events at DuPont is very disturbing. There must be a thorough review and investigation of DuPont’s overall safety infrastructure and the facility’s compliance with emergency notification requirements to Metro 911 and federal agencies.
“My office has been in touch with the CEO of DuPont, the Coast Guard, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Chemical Safety Board (CSB), and I have strongly urged DuPont to cooperate fully and promptly with the state and federal officials who are investigating the incident.
“As these events are being investigated, I believe the company’s decision to institute a safety stand-down is the best course of action – DuPont needs to take the time to make sure that they are operating as safely as possible moving forward.
“The safety of our workers, our communities and of all West Virginians is of the utmost importance. Lapses in chemical plant safety can have tragic consequences for plant workers and their surrounding communities. We have to find out what happened at the Belle plant and work as hard as we can to make sure it never happens again.”
The Senate Commerce Committee has oversight of the facility’s security under the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, since it is engaged in waterborne transportation and is on or adjacent to the navigable waterways of the United States. The Commerce Committee also has jurisdiction over the safe and secure transportation of hazardous materials in general under the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration at the Department of Transportation. The safety operation of the facility is regulated by OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency.