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Cincinnati HazWaste Plant under investigation following two explosions.

Federal health and safety inspectors have opened a second investigation in less than a year into working conditions at a Cincinnati industrial and hazardous waste management plant following a recent explosion there--the second in 12 months.

Last year, a Dec. 28 explosion rocked Environmental Enterprises Inc.,fatally wounding 20-year-old Zachary Henzerling of Colerain Township and injuring another employee.

The blast this month was smaller in scale; no one was hurt and the ensuing fire was kept in check by a sprinkler system until firefighters arrived at the site.

But inspectors with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will again investigate even as Environmental Enterprises continues to fight OSHA's findings in last year's explosion. In that case, OSHA cited the company with 22 health and safety violations, including four "willful" violations--finding the employer either "knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement" or "acted with plain indifference to employee safety"--and 18 "serious" violations, hazards that "could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm," according to OSHA standards.

OSHA also demanded $325,710 in fines and placed Environmental Enterprises in OSHA's Severe Violator's Enforcement Program.

The two explosions appear to have occurred for different reasons.

Last year an industrial filter cartridge filled with sodium chlorate ignited, causing the explosion. OSHA officials said it probably happened when an employee --with permission from management--used a reciprocating saw to cut the filter.

The most recent explosion occurred when a mixture of several different kinds of hazardous waste created a chemical reaction in a 55-gallon drum, blowing the lid off and erupting in flames, said Cincinnati Fire Capt. Dan Rottmueller, fire investigator and head of Cincinnati's Environmental Crimes Unit.

OSHA spokesman Scott Allen said it's impossible to know now whether issues outlined in earlier citations are to blame. OSHA's citations generally demand abatement plans, Allen said, but as long as the 2012 case is being contested by Environmental Enterprises, the company is not required to abate any of the issues or pay the fines. Until this situation, OSHA officials had not been back in the plant since the last investigation, Allen said.

Source: Carrie Blackmore Smith, Cincinnati.com

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Comment:Cincinnati HazWaste Plant under investigation following two explosions.
Publication:Hazardous Waste Superfund Alert
Geographic Code:1U3OH
Date:Dec 23, 2013
Words:362
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