Chem. Plant Incidents: 1 Dead; 3 Hurt

Monday, June 4, 2012 @ 02:06 PM gHale


Two separate chemical plants suffered an explosion and a fire leaving one worker dead and three injured.

In one incident, a 20-year-old worker died in a steam-related explosion at the Mississippi Phosphates plant in Pascagoula, MS. This is the second death at the plant in two weeks. Mississippi Phosphates released a statement saying, out of caution it has “temporarily suspended production” at the plant.

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Jackson County Coroner Vicki Broadus identified the victim of Friday’s incident as Jeremy Moore of Moss Point died in the blast and two other workers suffered injuries the in the industrial explosion.

Jeff Beck is in good condition at Singing River Hospital. Jerry “Donnie” Scudder was transferred to USA Medical Center in Mobile, AL, where he is undergoing treatment for multiple injuries.

Two weeks ago, an accident in that same work area killed Jeffrey Simpson, 39. Over the past 10 years, Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials found more than a dozen safety violations at Mississippi Phosphates and leveled $20,000 in fines.

Mississippi Phosphates officials say the portion of the plant that suffered the blast was not operational and there was no threat to other employees or the public.

Madison, MS-based Mississippi Phosphates Corp. manufactures a fertilizer, diammonium phosphate, at the Pascagoula facility.

Meanwhile, a fire at PPG’s Natrium plant in West Virginia has left the plant temporarily closed as officials evaluate the extent of the damage.

The fire broke out just after 7 a.m. Thursday at the plant’s facility that makes calcium hypochlorite, used in water treatment applications. PPG spokesman Jeremy Neuhart said they evacuated the facility and the on-site PPG fire brigade responded and extinguished the fire within 30 minutes.

While crews fought to extinguish the blaze, officials closed traffic along WV 2 as a precaution. Neuhart said one employee who responded to the fire suffered from chlorine inhalation at a first aid center at the site, but ended up treated and released.

Neuhart said while there are no environmental concerns or health risks stemming from the fire, a fence line monitoring system detected chlorine at low concentration levels. Though the levels are low enough to not present any risks, PPG staff worked Thursday afternoon to conduct off-site precautionary measures. In the meantime, the calcium hypochlorite facility remains closed as officials evaluate the damage and search for a cause of the fire.

“PPG is evaluating the extent of property damage and cannot predict when the facility will resume normal operations,” Neuhart said.



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