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Coke Plant Explosion leads to Violations

 State: N.Y.

 

Tonawanda Coke, Kirchner LLC Face $161,100 in Fines after Coke Plant Explosion

 

Tonawanda Coke Corp. and Kirchner LLC face a total of $161,100 in federal fines following a Jan. 31 explosion that injured three workers at a plant in Tonawanda, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced.

 

The explosion, caused by an over-pressurized coke oven manifold, collapsed brick walls and damaged electrical equipment.

 

OSHA determined that employees had been exposed to asphyxiation from the release of gas, as well as fire and explosion hazards. The agency said the company failed to properly inspect and maintain its safety systems.

 

Michael Scime, OSHA’s area director in Buffalo, said additional unsafe conditions "exposed workers to potential amputations, falls, crushing injuries, injury by unexpectedly activated machinery and an inability to exit the workplace swiftly if fire, explosions or other emergencies arose."

 

The company was fined $90,100 for 15 serious violations and $70,000 for two repeat violations related to lapsed lockout training.

 

Tonawanda Coke produces coke, a coal byproduct. Kirchner LLC provides temporary workers.

 

The companies have 15 business days to pay the fines, meet with Scime or contest the fines before an independent panel.

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