OSHA Files $45,000 in Penalties in Horsehead Corp. Explosion

In all, the company was cited for eight serious violations and one other-than-serious violation following the July 2010 explosion that caused two deaths.

Training and emergency response planning failures formed the bulk of OSHA's citations against Horsehead Corp., which were issued Jan. 19 after an inspection that began July 23, 2010, at the company's Monaca, Pa., location. A July 22 explosion had killed two workers.

The eight serious citations include one alleging Horsehead did not develop and implement an emergency response plan to handle emergencies including the remote shutoff of carbon monoxide and natural gas.

Other citations allege the company's bloodborne pathogens program for emergency responders was deficient, and the explosion relief vents on the second and third floors for the zinc distillation column B weren't designed based on NFPA 68, Standard on Explosion Protection by Deflagration Venting, and "were made of brick and located such that bursting bricks, vented flames and fireballs, and vented gases resulting from an explosion in the column, would be discharged directly into an area in which employees are required to work." The citation document says Horsehead must abate the hazards by Feb. 22.

One citation was included for an other-than-serious violation. Total penalties amount to $45,000.

The company, a zinc producer that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Horsehead Holding Corp., announced Dec. 21 that it had restarted a sixth zinc smelting furnace at the Monaca facility, returning the smelter to full production. That furnace was stopped and the zinc oxide production process shut down by the company after the July 22 incident, and Horsehead said it "made significant changes to improve safety and efficiency" in the interim. "Our progress in re-building the refinery remains on schedule," said Jim Hensler, Horsehead's president & CEO. "Horsehead is increasing metal production to supply refinery columns that have started into production. Also, we have expanded our customer base since the incident and expect, given current market conditions, to remain at a six furnace operation level for the foreseeable future."

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