The fertilizer facility in Texas that exploded earlier this year, killing 15 people, was cited yesterday by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 24 violations of worker safety protections and issued a proposed fine of $118,300.
In April, a fire at the Adair Grain Inc. facility in the town of West ignited ammonium nitrate stored there. The resulting blast left a crater 93 feet by 10 feet. Adair was cited for “serious safety violations” by OSHA for exposing workers to explosion or fire hazards and for its unsafe handling and storage of ammonium nitrate and anhydrous ammonia.
Before the blast, OSHA inspectors hadn’t been to the fertilizer depot since February 1985.
The violations were disclosed by California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer because the government shutdown prevented the agency from making an announcement. The Labor Department provided a copy of the complaint to Bloomberg News today. The company can contest the violations and penalties.
“The attorneys are reviewing it,” said Daniel Keeney, a spokesman for the company. “But they don’t believe these allegations have anything to do with the accident in April.”
Federal inspectors visited the Texas plant after its April explosion and found violations of safety regulations, including failing to have appropriate fire extinguishers, poor respiratory protection, combustible materials stored in bins that are not fire resistant and the lack of a hazard communication plan.
The plant had $1 million in liability insurance coverage, according to lawyers.
Editors: Jon Morgan, David Ellis