Zinc Plant Cited After July’s Deadly Blast

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 @ 07:01 PM gHale

A Monaca, PA-based zinc refinery now has quite a list of violations following an investigation into an explosion that resulted in the death of two employees there in July, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The agency proposed $45,000 in fines for the Horsehead Corp. for nine violations — eight of them classified as “serious” — following a July 23 explosion that killed workers James Taylor and Corey Keller.

OSHA found the company created unsafe working conditions by putting employees directly in harm’s way in the event of an explosion.

Large columns constructed of brick that functioned as explosion relief vents “were located such that bursting bricks, vented flames and fireballs, and vented gasses resulting from an explosion in the column would be discharged directly into an area in which employees were required to work,” the citation said.

Furthermore, OSHA found the explosion relief vents to be small and found the company heated up the zinc too quickly in their refinery process, increasing the likelihood of an explosion.

OSHA also found the company failed to prepare its emergency responders, who did not know how to shut off carbon monoxide and natural gas remotely following an explosion.

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