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Plant Officials Face Prosecution Over Blast

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 7:26am

OSAKA, May 9 (Kyodo) — Police plan to send papers to prosecutors on around six officials of Morita Chemical Industries Co. over a plant explosion in Osaka that left four people dead last December, investigative sources said Sunday.

The Osaka prefectural police will likely refer the officials to prosecutors before the end of this month on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in death, according to the sources.

The case involves a blast on the morning of Dec. 24 at a fluorine production plant operated by Morita Chemical in Osaka's Yodogawa Ward, which killed four workers who were cleaning a chemical tank.

The police believe sparks generated while the top of the tank was being cut off with a power tool ignited hydrogen in the tank, the sources said.

The police have determined that the company officials should be held criminally responsible for not taking concrete preventive measures even though they knew in advance about the plan to clean the tank and could have foreseen the risk of an accident.

Morita Chemical, an unlisted chemical maker based in Osaka, holds a share of around 30 percent in the global market for raw material production for lithium ion batteries.

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