Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Possible Cause for Fatal Zinc Plant Blast

The U.S. Chemical Board says a column used to distill zinc at a Beaver County smelting plant had failed before an explosion that killed 2 workers July 22. That board and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are investigating the explosion at the Horsehead Inc. plant in Potter Township. The Chemical Safety Board does not issue fines but is empowered to make safety recommendations. The board says the five story brick distillation column suffered "a loss of containment" before the blast. When operating normally, natural gas and carbon monoxide are used to oxidize molten zinc as it flows through the column. Horsehead spokesman Ali Alavi says "it's too early to speculate" on the board's findings.

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