Despite assurances from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and
Eramet officials, some area citizens remain concerned about two recent
incidents at the plant.
Twice in the last two weeks molten
liquid manganese burned through a furnace when it shouldn’t have. No
one was injured, and the company isn’t required to report such
incidents to the state, but it’s understandable that residents of the
area are concerned about any unintended spill or release.
Times called about the incidents because reporters heard calls go out
over the police scanner for local fire departments to respond to the
plant as precaution. Were it not for the scanner traffic, the newspaper
would not have been notified of the incidents.
additional information about the first incident detailed on the Ohio
Citizen Action Web site. In an interview, Christina Wieg of the EPA
says she has learned Eramet plans a maintenance outage later in the
year at which time it will replace the shell of the furnace. In the
meantime, she said, infrared cameras will monitor the inside of the
furnace to detect any weaknesses in the furnace shell.
our concern is the unknown. Could more burn-throughs occur? Could they
escalate in their severity? Could workers or others be at risk?
disconcerting to hear something like a burn-through occurring because
maintenance is needed. One would hope a corporation like Eramet has the
technology and the resources to know when maintenance is needed and
make sure it’s done before such accidents occur.
We urge Eramet
to step up its maintenance plans if necessary. Some residents have
expressed concern that these burn-throughs of the furnace might be
indicative of maintenance issues elsewhere, too.
Washington County, and Wood County, W.Va., need to feel assured that an
industrial plant like Eramet is doing everything it possibly can to
prevent any accident, no matter how small. Wieg, of the EPA, said
Eramet is conducting an investigation as to why the burn-throughs
occurred and she has requested a copy of that report for the EPA. We
would expect both the company, and the EPA, to make that report
available to the public as well.