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Chemical Plant Fined $731,000 For MNT Blast

Thu, 08/20/2009 - 12:32pm

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) — First Chemical Corp. will pay the federal government $731,000 in civil penalties for an October 2002 explosion at the company's Pascagoula plant.

The U.S. Justice Department announced Thursday that the company agreed to pay the money and to correct violations of the Clean Air Act.

The department said the explosion released into the air more than 1,200 pounds of a hazardous chemical mononitrotoluene, or MNT. The chemical is related to TNT, and can be explosive at high temperatures.

Three employees were injured in the blast that blew apart one of the plant's distillation towers.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board said in 2003 that First Chemical had inadequate safety systems and lacked warning devices when the explosion occurred.

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