An explosion at a steel mill in Colorado, United States, injured eight people on May 29. The incident, which occurred at the EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel plant in Pueblo, is said to have been the explosion of a furnace. The steel mill has previously been cited by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for putting employees at risk of explosion.
Three of the injured employees were reported to be in critical condition and were rushed to hospital with respiratory problems and burns.EVRAZ Pueblo’s vice president of plant operations, Dave Light, told reporters the day after the incident that three employees remained at the hospital.Light added that an initial inspection suggested water had entered a furnace, leading to a buildup of pressure and an explosion. The explosion was first reported around 6 p.m. local time and firefighters from the Pueblo Fire Department attended the scene shortly thereafter.Local authorities opened an investigation and the plant is expected to be closed for some time. According to local news channel, News 5, the EVRAZ Pueblo factory has previously been cited by OSHA for putting employees at risk of explosion and other hazards.The factory was cited in 2017 for serious security breaches.Among the problems at the plant, OSHA said employees were exposed to explosion hazards around the facility’s vacuum tank degassing unit (VTD). The May 29 explosion was unrelated to previous appointments with the VTD located in a different part of the plant. In its 2017 report on the EVRAZ Pueblo plant, OSHA said, “On or about November 30, 2016, and on occasions before, employees were exposed to explosions and were hit by hazards where no maintenance, inspection and testing procedures were employed to ensure that the flow switch interlocking device stopped VTD operations when the water flow was below. of safe operating parameters”. The report also said that certain safe deposit boxes were not properly installed to prevent an explosion or other hazards.”The programmable logic controller (PLC) was also programmed with a code that prevented: 1) the automatic execution of the shutdown procedure and 2) the operator’s station from displaying the status of the flow switch,” the quote reads. OSHA said the violations resulted in a steam explosion.As a result, EVRAZ paid an $8,500 settlement in March 2017.