Lanxess chemical plant has history of violations with OSHA

Lanxess chemical plant has history of violations with OSHA
A plume of smoke emanates from the site Wednesday morning

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Documents from both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration show the Lanxess chemical plant has a history of issues.

Charleston fire crews were called to the site Wednesday morning for a phosphorous leak. Plant manager Jean-Francois Berthiaume said there was a chlorine release at the site back in May of 2019. But the site also has other violations dating back to at least 2018.

A pending violation notice from OSHA states the company was issued a $3,000 citation for three violations earlier in 2019 which were classified as “serious."

While the type of violation wasn’t given, the paperwork shows the standard cited was for “process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals” and a total of six people were “exposed."

The citations were issued on Oct. 17.

In a detailed facility report from the EPA, the site was found in violation of the Clean Air Act in October 2018. The same report shows there were 675 “total air emissions” of phosphorous at the site in 2018, which is the same chemical that leaked Wednesday morning.

According to the report, the most recent site visit from the EPA was in May 2019, while the most recent inspection from a state agency came in August.

The EPA report cites statistics from the 2010 census showing 37,135 people live within three miles of the site, which includes 14,183 households. 18,205 of those people live below the poverty level.

In February of 2018, Lanxess acquired the chemical site from Belgian chemical group Solvay. Roughly 90 employees work at the plant which manufactures phosphorous chloride and products for agrochemicals.

The facility was previously owned by Albright and Wilson and sits on the site where nine people died in an explosion in June 1991.

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