New incident at Wacker’s U.S. polysilicon plant: workers injured

Wacker’s U.S. polysilicon plant in Charleston, Tennessee
At Wacker’s U.S. polysilicon plant in Charleston, four contract workers were injured during maintenance work – Image: Wacker Chemie

The series of incidents at Wacker’s U.S. polysilicon plant in Charleston, Tennessee does not stop: Four contract workers suffered chemical burns when they performed maintenance work on non-operating equipment in a process building on July 24.

According to reports by the local newspapers Chattanooga Times Free Press and Cleveland Daily Banner, three workers were taken to a hospital by ambulance and one was airlifted. All four were treated for chemical burns and potential inhalation of toxic substances.

“There was no impact to the environment or surrounding community,” said Lisa Mantooth, Wacker’s public information officer, but did not provide further details about what led to the injuries.

The incident is the latest in a series that has happened since the plant started up in early 2016:

  • Oct. 3, 2016: A faulty gasket at one of the distillation columns is discovered; no chemical spill occurs.
  • Aug. 30, 2017: A release of chlorosilanes causes burns to five workers.
  • Sep. 7, 2017: Chlorosilanes escape from two leaks after a faulty piston has caused the explosion of a hydrogen compressor; 13 people are treated at hospitals.
  • May 4, 2019: A fire is discovered on the 4th Floor of the factory’s waste water treatment building; it has been distinguished nine hours later.

The Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA) has already charged Wacker with $45,400 in fines for nine violations of rules. TOSHA is expected to investigate the latest incident.

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