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US Chemical Safety Board concludes investigation into flash fires at metal-powders plant

November 17, 2011
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GALLATIN, Tenn. — The U.S. Chemical Safety Board concluded Wednesday that Hoeganaes Corp. officials knew of potential safety hazards in their Gallatin, Tenn., metal-powders plant, but did not act to eliminate the problems before a series of flash fires killed five workers and injured at least four others, The Tennessean reported.

The latest accident, on May 27, which fatally burned three workers, was started by a hydrogen explosion inside the plant that occurred because of a corroded pipe.

The safety board investigators found that the company had no inspection or maintenance program in place to keep pipes carrying the extremely flammable gas from leaking.

To prevent future dust and gas explosions, the investigators recommended that Hoeganaes conduct regular audits for compliance with fire-prevention standards, train employees and contractors on how to eliminate hazards and implement preventive-maintenance and leak-detection procedures for all flammable gases inside the plant.
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