History of CF Industries Safety Risks
CF Industries is a company based in Deerfield, Illinois, but the company manufactures its fertilizer at a chemical plant located in Donaldsonville, Louisiana. In May 2000, the CF Industries fertilizer plant experienced its first explosion that resulted in a fire within the facility. This original CF Industries chemical explosion killed three workers at the time and injured another nine chemical facility workers.
In late 2000, CF Industries was charged a fine of $150,000 by the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The company was cited for 14 health and safety violations. Of these 14 OSHA violations, the government agency described 12 of the violations as “serious.” CF Industries did not argue the citations, and the company agreed to pay the $150,000 OSHA fine.
Chemical Plant Explosions
Since the OSHA safety violation citations in 2000, CF Industries has now endured another chemical explosion. On Friday, June 14, 2013, there was an explosion in a section of the CF Industries fertilizer plant that had previously been shut down for maintenance. The Louisiana State Police Superintendent stated that the explosion did not pose a chemical or fire risk to any residential areas located near the plant. It did, however, kill one CF Industries employee and injure another seven CF Industries workers.
In an odd circumstance, the newest CF Industries explosion happened within the same 24-hour period as another chemical explosion in the area. On Thursday, June 13, 2013, there was an explosion at a nearby chemical plant owned by Williams Cos. Inc., located in Geismar, Louisiana. The location of the Williams Cos. Inc. chemical plant facility explosion is across the Mississippi River from the CF Industries fertilizer plant explosion. The Williams Cos. Inc. chemical explosion killed two people and injured dozens of other workers.
Work Conditions under Investigation
OSHA is working with local authorities to investigate the causes of the Louisiana chemical facilities’ explosions. Authorities have related the incident to a “catastrophic failure” while distributing gas to the fertilizer manufacturing facility. However, the exact cause of the CF Industries explosion remains unknown. Investigation involves the possibilities of mechanical failure or over pressurization.
CF Industries alone can produce approximately 5 million tons of nitrogen for industrial and agricultural use each year. Reports from the CF Industries explosion investigation state that there weren’t any hazardous materials found at the plant. Furthermore, although the facility produces combustible ammonia- and nitrogen-based fertilizers, the Louisiana State Police Superintendent reported that there wasn’t any ammonia located on-site at the time of the explosion.
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