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OSHA declines to issue fine in connection to Pixelle Jay mill explosion

JAY, Maine (From news reports) -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued Pixelle Specialty Solutions a hazard alert letter on Jan. 5 but did not fine the company in relation to a digester explosion on April 2020 because no OSHA standard applies.

OSHA did an inspection on the mill from April 16 to Oct. 14, 2020 which disclosed that during the annual digester inspections, some of the stress corrosion crack repairs were postponed without a proper engineering analysis of the cracks. Shell cracking at some of the horizontal weld lines of the digester could not be identified using visual inspection because they were covered, according to the letter.

"Crack detection was substandard in these areas," area OSHA Director David McGuan wrote. "Employees responsible for the overseeing of yearly digester inspections were not provided with the protocols and training to assess the inspection and testing contracts in such a manner as to acquire professionals to assess the inspection with the necessary capabilities to perform their contracted work in accordance with industry best practices."

Since no OSHA standard applies and it is not considered appropriate at this time to invoke a section of the general duty clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, no citation will be issued for this hazard, McGuan wrote.

In the interest of workplace safety and health, he recommended abatement measures to address the noted issues at the mill facility that the company could take to eliminate or reduce employees' exposure to hazards.

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