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MSHA News Release No. 2000-0107
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Diana Petterson
Phone: (214) 767-4776, ext. 222

Released Friday, January 7, 2000

MSHA ISSUES 21 CITATIONS IN JULY 1999 KAISER ALUMINUM PLANT EXPLOSION IN GRAMERCY, LA.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration today issued 21 citations for safety violations to Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corp. for the July 5, 1999 explosion at its plant in Gramercy, La.

Twenty-nine employees were injured in the blast.

Seven of the 21 citations were issued for actions that directly caused or contributed to the blast, while 14 were issued for associated violations.

"The issuance of citations is a standard part of MSHA's enforcement process. Hopefully, it will help prevent similar accidents in the future," said Davitt McAteer, assistant labor secretary for mine safety and health.

The explosion occurred in the digestion unit, which is a production area of the plant. The citations allege that the pressure relief safety system, installed to relieve excessive pressure in several of the flash tanks, was inoperative. The citations also allege that Kaiser failed to examine for – and promptly initiate appropriate actions to correct – conditions that posed hazards to the miners.

Kaiser also was cited for failure to provide its employees with personal protective clothing and adequate training, as well as for impeding the Mine Safety and Health Administration's investigation.