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Chemical Plant Faces $487,000 Fine For Violations

OSHA cited General Chemical Corporation Delaware Valley Works for\r\nalleged health and safety violations at two of its plants.

OSHA cited General Chemical Corporation Delaware Valley Works for alleged health and safety violations at both the North plant in Marcus Hook, Pa., and the South plant in Claymont, Del., and proposed penalties totaling $487,000. According to OSHA, an inspection was initiated on Aug. 4, 2000, at the company''s North plant when six employees were hospitalized after a release of hydrogen fluoride.

The inspection at the South plant began on Sept. 14, 2000, as a result of a complaint.

"The hazardous conditions found at these sites foster a continuously unsafe work environment for General Chemical employees," said Phyllis Kyner, area director of the Philadelphia OSHA office. "Immediate action must be taken to prevent future incidents and ensure the safety and health of these workers."

The citations issued today are the result of both inspections and have been issued so that the company is not penalized twice for the same violations found in each plant.

Eight willful violations with a proposed penalty of $365,000; 25 serious violations with a penalty of $104,000; and, two other-than-serious violations with a penalty of $1,000 have been issued for both the North and South Plants.

The serious citations cover a range of violations of the process safety management standard; failure to notify the emergency actions team and failure to implement an emergency response plan when an emergency occurred; various violations of the personal protective equipment standard; confined space violations; failure to conduct periodic inspections of energy control procedures; and, failure to train employees in the hazards of hydrogen fluoride.

The South plant received four additional serious violations involving the process safety management standard for failure to have operating procedures on how to deal with airborne exposure to ammonia; problems with the mechanical integrity program; and failure to conduct inspection of valves or repair structural defects when discovered; and failure to maintain the hydrogen sulfide alarm in working condition.

The other-than-serious violations concern the certification of lockout/tagout training and other procedural inadequacies.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to decide to comply or contest them.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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