Federal Officials Issue 21 Citations for July, 1999 Blast at Kaiser Aluminum Plant That Injured 29 including allegation that the company impeded an investigation.

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Think we should trust big business when it comes to telling the truth about y2k? Reads this:

Federal Officials Issue 21 Citations for July, 1999 Blast at Kaiser Aluminum Plant That Injured 29 ----- Friday (1/7/2000) the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration issued 21 federal safety citations, including allegation that the facility was operated unsafely and that the company impeded an investigation.

A spokesman for the company said Kaiser "strongly disagreed" with the findings and would appeal the citations.

MSHA cited problems is said caused or contributed to the explosion, including an inoperative pressure relief system, failure to provide protective clothing to workers and failing to provide adequate training to workers.

The alleged problem with the pressure relief sys was described in the citations as "an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory safety standard."

MSHA also accused Kaiser of impeding its investigation by erasing some data, telling investigators that some data considered important to the investigation did not exist, although it later turned up, and Kaiser employees entering restricted areas, according to MSHA.

"Our position is that MSHA has acted prematurely and improperly in this matter, in part because they ignored repeated offers from Kaiser for updated and comprehensive technical briefings on this incident," Kaiser spokesman Scott Lamb said. "Throughout the course of the investigation, we voluntarily provided a lot of information to the agency and we think they've misconstrued a fair amount of that."

Lamb says the company "categorically denies" the allegation that Kaiser impeded the investigation.

The United Steelworkers of America struck Kaiser on Sept. 30, 1998, and union members were locked out of the company on Jan. 14, 1999.

In a news release, the USWA said the explosion showed the need for Kaiser to reach a contract with "a skilled workforce of steelworkers under a fair contract".

Lamb said the company had been negotiating in good faith and another round of contract talks was due to begin next week.

----- Information Added: Friday, October 29, 1999 - 12:48 AM ----- An electrical consultant who worked for Kaiser recently told a Mine Safety and Health and Safety hearing that the company is to blame for the explosion.

Michael McAnelly, an electrical engineer and president of Power & Control System International Inc., testified that his company brought to Kaiser's attention shortcomings in the plant's electrical system years ago, according to L'Obervateur, a LaPlace, La., newspaper.

He said that in 1990, his company found a ground fault that could knock out the plant's electrical system. According to the newspaper report, McAnelly said that Kaiser ignored his company's warnings and that could have led to the explosion.

Company spokesman Scott Lamb said the company was aware of the allegations, stressing that they are only allegations at this point. "We will look into them. We do want to find out what happened, and we do want to make sure that this kind of thing never happens again in a Kaiser plant," Lamb said. (Spokesman-Review)

----- Information Added: Monday, October 4, 1999 - 3:13 PM ----- A Federal judge ruled Sept. 30 that the Mine Safety and Health Administration is the proper agency to investigate the July 5 explosion.

In a related item, Kaiser's Board of Directors has approved up to $20 million for the first phase of rebuilding the damaged portion of the alumina refiner.

----- Information Added: Thursday, September 30, 1999 - 1:56 AM ----- Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corp. has asked a federal court to decide if the Mine Safety and Health Administration is the proper agency to investigate this incident.

Kaiser, in its filing, suggested that it would be more appropriate for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to investigate the blast that is now linked to more than 20 employee injuries and damaging as many as 2,000 homes in the Gramercy area.

The company says MSHA, which is part of the Department of Labor (as is OSHA), is conducting a "very unusual" public hearing into the incident.

MSHA spokesman Rodney Brown responded, "The reason we're having this public hearing is because it has affected so many people in the community. Normally, mining accidents don't affect people in the community. This is an incident where people in the community were affected."

----- Information Added: Thursday, September 2, 1999 - 5:57 PM ----- The company said on Monday (8/30) that at least a year will be required to bring the plant back to full production.

Since the explosion, the plant has cut its normal operations in half and reduced its hourly work force by about half, the company said.

Kaiser has been staffing the plant with management and replacement workers because of a lengthy strike. The company has said that the explosion was not related to the labor dispute.

----- Information Added: Tuesday, August 17, 1999 - 5:17 PM ----- The company's preliminary investigation report indicates that the explosion that rocked the plant was caused to a power failure at the plant. Investigators say that power to a vat holding chemicals failed. The material was supposed to move from the vat to another area of the plant, but the pressure built up after pumps failed, causing the explosion that destroyed about 25 percent of the plant.

Both the Louisiana State Police and U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration investigations are continuing.

----- Information Added: Tuesday, August 10, 1999 - 11:09 PM ----- The U.S. Department of Labor announced that it will hold a public hearing on September 8 in Convent, La. to seek information to determine the cause of the explosions.

----- Information Added: Friday, July 9, 1999 - 12:09 PM ----- Three explosions at the Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical plant caused a natural gas leak and blew a cloud of sodium hydroxide and bauxite ore, a caustic chemical from which aluminum is obtained,into the air. Fifteen to 21 workers were injured, two critically.

Injuries ranged from severe burns to difficulty breathing and eye irritation, according to news reports. Residents also were sent to the hospital for nausea and respiratory problems.

The explosions occurred in a part of the plant where electricity is gneerated and where the bauxite ore and liquid sodium hydroxide are mixed. Cause of the explosion is unknown.

Link to story:


-- Carl Jenkins (Somewherepress@aol.com), January 10, 2000


Forgot to add that the plant in question is located in Gramercy, LA, United States

-- Carl Jenkins (Somewherepress@aol.com), January 10, 2000.

Re: "....Blast at Kaiser Aluminum Plant...."

I don't think we can say that Y2k problems didn't play a role in the plant explosion, just yet. What a mess! Mechanical failure, accusations, safety issues, union strike etc. Now there are human error and computer data issues:

Published on 1/14/00

Plant explosion report disturbing

~snip~ ....The MSHA says Kaiser tried to hinder investigation of the blast by denying it knew of certain computer data, going into areas prohibited by MSHA after the explosion, denying the existence of materials explaining a recently installed system and removing, deleting or modifying data stored electronically. ~snip~

http://www.theadvocate.com/opinion/story.asp? storyid=1761

Published on 1/14/00, The Advocate Online, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

-- Lee Maloney (leemaloney@hotmail.com), February 03, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ