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Chemical Plant Fined $270,000 In 2004 Explosion

Fri, 10/16/2009 - 6:25am

ATLANTA (AP) — The Justice Department says a chemical plant has agreed to pay $270,000 in civil penalties to resolve claims resulting from a toxic release of hazardous chemicals at the company's Dalton facility in April 2004.

Authorities said a reactor at MFG Chemical Inc. malfunctioned, causing a cloud of hydrochloric acid — a highly corrosive substance commonly used for cleaning — to be released over the area. The company produces coatings and other substances for the textile industry.

About 150 people were decontaminated and treated for minor symptoms in the incident and hundreds of residents and workers from at least five other factories nearby were evacuated.

Federal authorities allege in a complaint filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia that MFG failed to adhere to guidelines under the Clean Air Act that require companies handling extremely hazardous substances to take preventative measures to identify and reduce the risks involved. Authorities say MFG failed to identify the risk of a runaway reaction.

A message left at MFG seeking comment was not immediately returned on Thursday.

Since the explosion, the company has implemented measures including halting the use of allyl alcohol and hiring an experienced safety engineer to oversee its compliance with Clean Air Act obligations. MFG also paid to clean up the surrounding contaminated creeks.

MFG has implemented measures to address conditions at the plant contributing to the explosion and release, including halting the use of allyl alcohol and hiring an experienced safety engineer to oversee its compliance with its Clean Air Act obligations.

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