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The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed $45,000 in fines against Veolia ES Technical Solutions in West Carrollton, Ohio, alleging 11 serious violations of federal workplace health and safety standards.
OSHA initiated two inspections at this facility after powerful explosions shortly before midnight on May 3. The explosions were the result of a large cloud of flammable and solvent vapor ignited by boilers at the worksite. Two workers were seriously injured in the blasts and several onsite buildings were destroyed.
Issues addressed by OSHA's citations include the lack of a control room where an abnormal condition could be detected and substantially corrected by workers, while also serving as a safe haven for workers during a fire or explosion. Additionally, OSHA cited a lack of systems that route flammable vapors away from pressure relief devices toward a safe location, such as a chilled dump tank, to prevent the formation of a large cloud of flammable vapor that can explode with destructive force if it encounters an ignition source.
At the time of the May 3 explosion, Veolia's West Carrollton facility employed approximately 70 workers. The North American Division of Veolia ES Technical Solutions employed more than 2,000 people at that time. Veolia distills and purifies contaminated organic solvent solutions at the West Carrollton facility.
Veolia has been inspected six times between 2006 and 2009, resulting in the issuance of five serious and seven other-than-serious violations.
OSHA area director Richard Gilgrist stated, "While the accident investigation proceeded, a second, concurrent OSHA inspection took place at the West Carrollton facility to evaluate the company's compliance with OSHA's process safety management standard." The findings from the second OSHA inspection, Gilgrist indicated, are expected to be announced soon.
Veolia has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.