Jay, ME- Malfunctioning machinery sent wood fiber and other debris shooting into the sky after a massive explosion at a paper mill in Jay, Maine, Wednesday afternoon, officials said.
All employees at the mill have since been accounted for and no injuries were reported.
At 12:06 p.m., Jay police and fire officials received reports of an explosion at a paper factory operated by Pixelle Specialty Paper Solutions at 300 Riley Rd., Davis said. Pixelle spokeswoman Roxie Lassetter said a rupture in the pressure valve of a digester, which creates pulp from wood chips to be used in the paper, caused the explosion.
Lassetter said none of the 165 employees who were inside the building were near the explosion. Some employees and people close to the plant were treated at the scene for minor respiratory issues from the debris in the air, but no one was taken to the hospital, she said.
Lassetter said the blast sent water, wood fiber, and chemicals used during the pulping process into the air during the blast. Environmental officials from the state will assess the area for any hazards, she said.
Pixelle has yet to determine the extent of the damage. Fire officials and representatives from the company will start to assess the site Thursday morning, though Lassetter said the area of the blast has sustained “significant damage.”
North Charleston, SC – The KapStone Paper mill was the site of an employee death earlier this week. The local coroner’s office reports that Lawrence Shiner, 60, died as the result of an accident that occurred while he performed maintenance at the facility Sunday night.
One person was killed and another injured while performing maintenance work in an operating area that was offline for repairs. The injured worker was hospitalized, but has since been released.
The accident is being investigated by OSHA.
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Essex County, New York – An employee of a Ticonderoga (NY) area paper mill was fatally burned in January 2015. Jorg Borowski, 57 years old, was caught in a flash fire while servicing air pollution equipment and died of his burns a day later. Owners of the International Paper Company have been faulted for numerous serious safety violations and face up to $210,000 in fines.
International Paper has been added to a special OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, aimed at companies that “have demonstrated indifference to (safety regulations) by willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.” OSHA linked the company’s failure to conduct annual safety inspections of the “fly ash bag house” where Borowski was working to identical violations at its plants in Chicago and Newark, Ohio, in 2011.
In citations filed by OSHA this week, the IP mill in Ticonderoga was faulted for not providing Borowski with fire-resistant protective clothing, for improper maintenance of fly ash pollution control equipment so that it introduced oxygen needed for the fire to ignite and for not having an automatic fire control system where Borowski was working to remove and replace burned, smoldering filter bags of combustible fly ash.
“This worker’s death was preventable. International Paper knew of these hazards and deficiencies and did not address them,” said Kim Castillon, OSHA’s area director in Albany. “While nothing can return this man to his daughter and co-workers, the company can and must take prompt and effective steps to ensure that this never happens again.”
Neenah, WI – OSHA has proposed fines of nearly $50,000 for safety violations found at Clearwater Paper Corp. facility in Neenah, WI. Violations included a lack of procedures for the control of locking devices to prevent the operation of machinery during repairs, known as lockout tagout. The company was also cited for a lack of safety guards on operating machine parts.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration found nine serious violations during a December inspection of the paper mill, including those that present amputation risks. Matt Van Vleet, vice president of public affairs for the Spokane, Wash.-headquartered company, said they received notification of the violations on April 24, and company officials are in the process of review.
OSHA chose the Wisconsin mill for inspection based on its use of equipment that puts employees in danger of amputation. The administration has put an emphasis on reducing workplace machinery and equipment hazards. OSHA officials say the company and its union took immediate steps to address the issues raised during the inspection.
Clearwater Paper is the country’s largest producer of private-label tissue products, and its Wisconsin mill is one of 10 manufacturing facilities across the country.