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Gas leak at DuPont plant in Texas kills four

Key Speakers At The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Of The New Champions 2013Key Speakers At The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Of The New Champions 2013
DuPont CEO Ellen KullmanPhotograph by Tomohiro Ohsumi — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Four workers at a DuPont Inc. (DFT) chemical plant in La Porte, Texas, have been killed and a fifth has been hospitalized following a dangerous gas leak, the company confirmed at the weekend.

The workers were responding to a leak of methyl mercaptan when they were overcome around 4 a.m. CT on Sunday plant manager Randall Clements said in a statement on the company’s website.

Methyl mercaptan, which is only toxic to humans in extremely high concentrations, is a building block for pesticides and is also used to make methionine, a key ingredient in animal and poultry feed. The gas has a rotten-egg smell when mixed with odorless natural gas.

Two of the dead, Robert and Gilbert Tisnado, were brothers who had worked at the plant for six years, the Associated Press reported.

The leak was contained around 6 a.m. and poses no threat to the community, which is approximately 20 miles east of Houston, the company said. Experts from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board will travel to La Porte Sunday and begin investigating the leak. The company says the leak was caused by a malfunctioning container of the gas.

DuPont said it is cooperation with local, state and federal authorities as they conduct their investigations.

“There are no words to fully express the loss we feel or the concern and sympathy we extend to the families of the employees and their co-workers,” Clements said. “We are in close touch with them and we are providing them every measure of support and assistance at this time.”