Four Explosions Rock Rouge Steel Plant, Two Workers Injured

Four explosions and a fire at the Rouge Steel plant in Dearborn,\r\nMich., on Friday injured at least two workers, according to\r\nauthorities.

Four explosions and a fire at the Rouge Steel plant in Dearborn, Mich., on Friday injured at least two workers, according to authorities.

The 1,100-acre Rouge complex comprises six Ford Motor Co. plants and Rouge Steel. The fire happened in the Rouge Steel area.

Police said the workers were able to walk away after the explosions in a blast furnace.

Officials at Rouge Steel said molten steel of about 2,000 degrees spewed out of the furnace. The blast shut down the furnace and one-third of the plant''s iron-making capacity, but damage was limited to pipes and wiring.

Friday''s incident was the latest in a series of accidents at the Rouge complex.

On Jan. 7, 2000, molten steel exploded in a vat at the foundry, sparking a series of small fires and causing two minor injuries.

On Aug. 19, 1999, one worker died and four others were treated after being overcome by fumes while performing routine maintenance work at Rouge Steel.

And on Feb. 1, 1999, at a Ford power plant within the complex, a boiler undergoing routine maintenance exploded, killing six employees and injuring 14 others.

Michigan OSH officials later found 15 workplace safety violations for which Ford was fined $1.5 million.

Ford also has settled all the claims relating to the 1999 power plant explosion for a total of about $30 million.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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