U.S. Environmental Protection Agency inspectors cited DuPont in March, saying the hose involved in the phosgene leak was five months overdue to be replaced. The EPA also said the braided-steel hose was the wrong kind of equipment to be used in the first place because of the extremely hazardous nature of phosgene.
Inspectors from the EPA, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board and other agencies have focused on the braided steel hose used to transfer phosgene from 1-ton cylinders to a pesticide production unit.
OSHA alleged that DuPont did not properly inspect the phosgene transfer hoses and did not train workers on the hazards associated with the chemical.
Michaels acknowledged that prior to Fish's death, OSHA had not inspected the Belle plant for nearly five years and had not inspected it for another decade prior to that.
Michaels said that legislation pending in Congress would increase the penalties OSHA could have assessed DuPont, but that even the higher amounts might not be enough to affect the behavior of such a larger company.
"We have to shift the burden of safety and health inspections from OSHA back to the employers," Michaels said. "What we have to do is change the culture of these plants."
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.