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A chemical plant in Charleston, Tennessee, that had explosions Thursday and Aug. 30 had been fined nearly $10,000 for workplace safety violations in 2016, according to the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
State safety regulators cited the Wacker Polysilicon plant twice in 2016, according to documents provided to Business Insurance. More than a dozen workers were injured in both incidents total, according to Friday media reports.
The plant was fined $3,500 in April 2016 for the serious violation of failing to inspect machinery, exposing the workplace to a caustic solution release and fined $6,450 for multiple violations in August 2016, including safety management of highly hazardous chemicals and failing to provide respiratory protection, according to the violations.
Authorities told reporters that Wacker's hydrogen chloride release Thursday briefly closed a busy section of an interstate highway, caused shelter-in-place orders and led officials to close local schools in Bradley County on Friday.
Munich-based Wacker Chemie A.G., Wacker Polysilicon’s parent, released a statement on Friday saying a “technical defect” caused the most recent explosion. The company could not be reached for comment.
The Bradley County Sheriff's Office reported that eight people went to the hospital.
An administrative law judge of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission upheld serious workplace safety violations against a fireworks company related to the death of an employee, but slightly lowered the associated penalties.