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DuPont Plant Delayed Reporting Chemical Leak

Wed, 07/29/2009 - 7:46am

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Government and company officials say managers at DuPont's Belle chemical plant waited two days to report a toxic material leak to authorities.

No one was injured when the sulfur trioxide leaked on July 22.

The leak occurred in a sulfuric acid production unit that was the subject of a major federal enforcement action. The company agreed in April to pay $2 million in fines for not upgrading pollution-control technology when it added equipment.

DuPont officials initially estimated the leak at 300 to 400 pounds, and federal law requires notification of leaks of 100 pounds or more. DuPont later downgraded its estimate to about 18 pounds.

Sulfur trioxide can burn the skin and eyes and damage the respiratory tract if inhaled.

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