L.P. Phillips, 1080 KRLD / CBSDFW.COMBy L.P. Phillips

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the Magnablend Chemical company for seven serious violations and and levied a $45,000 fine for last year’s explosion and fire at the company’s Waxahachie factory.

The report concludes a six month investigation, in which OSHA says workers at the plant were exposed to fire hazards by a ventilation system that was far inadequate for what the company was doing.

Magnablend Fire Photos - Waxahachie, TX

“Magnablend exposed its workers to fire hazards by failing to provide adequate ventilation that would have removed flammable hydrogen and other vapors,” said Jack Rector, OSHA’s area director in Fort Worth. “OSHA’s standards must be followed to prevent injuries and illnesses. It is fortunate that no one was injured.”

While he had not seen the OSHA report…Waxahachie Fire Chief David Hudgins in the past has said the company decided to mix a far greater than normal amount of chemicals October 3rd,causing a dangerous buildup of hydrogen gas. A spark from a machine is believed to have touched off the explosion and chain reaction fire that leveled the plant.

According to a news release from OSHA, employees were exposed to fire hazards due to inadequate ventilation, which can create an accumulation of flammable vapors that lead to a fire or explosion.

The violations are for failing to conduct a hazard assessment, install a sufficient ventilation system, train workers in specific hazardous chemical protection procedures, evaluate respiratory inhalation hazards, ensure that the fire sprinkler system was adequate, use electrical equipment in accordance with its labeling, document the classification of hazardous locations for electrical purposes and ensure that electrical equipment was considered safe for the location where it was used. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Despite the federal action, critics are not satisfied.

“I think the citation fine is way too low.” said David Vance, a resident who is fighting Magnablend’s decision to relocate in the old Super Conducting Supercollider site. “In the press release OSHA sent out it said the employer should have known about the hazards and that death or physical harm could have resulted from them. That’s saying that people’s lives are only worth $45,000.”

So far Magnablend has not responded to the OSHA report.

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