Issue Date: October 26, 2009
Company To Pay Fine For Toxic Explosion
To resolve claims stemming from an April 12, 2004, runaway chemical reaction and toxic vapor cloud release at its Dalton, Ga., plant, MFG Chemical has agreed to pay $270,000 in civil penalties. The toxic release forced evacuation of more than 200 families from their homes and sickened 154 people. It also burned surrounding vegetation and killed aquatic life in area creeks that were contaminated by water sprayed on the toxic vapor cloud. The accident occurred during the company’s first attempt to make a production-scale batch of triallyl cyanurate, a chemical used in rubber manufacturing. The reaction began self-accelerating, causing a rapid rise in pressure inside the 4,000-gal reactor. This, in turn, activated an emergency vent, causing the release of allyl alcohol and allyl chloride into the air. The civil claims allege that MFG failed to adhere to the Clean Air Act’s general duty-of-care provision. The company has taken steps to comply with the law, including hiring an experienced safety officer, and has paid for cleanup of creeks contaminated by the accident.
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