OSHA fined a Geismar biodiesel plant $70,000 over a September 3rd hydrogen gas explosion and fire that injured four workers, including at least one who was severely burned. The Renewable Energy Group (REG), a biofuels producer headquartered in Iowa that owns the facility, was also cited with three willful violations. According to an initial report from the Advocate, REG plans to contest OSHA’s findings. A State Police investigation, completed independently of OSHA, found REG workers failed to take recommended safety steps to ensure highly flammable hydrogen gas was no longer flowing from a storage tank into a high-pressure line that was being repaired. The hydrogen gas, which is invisible and odorless, escaped when REG workers and Excel Group contractors took apart valves in the line for upgrades after they believed them to be free of gas. The gas, continuing to flow out, caught fire and exploded. OSHA attributed the accident in part to inadequate lockout/tagout procedures.
Read complete coverage via the Advocate here.