A West Australian chemical plant has been fined $90 000 after four workers were injured in an acid spill.
Millennium Inorganic Chemical’s pleaded guilty to the acid spill at its Australind chemical plant, with resources safety director dangerous goods safety Phillip Hine saying that incident was due to inadequate inspection of the recently replaced sulphuric acid pipe work system.
“A problem was detected with the system that indicated acid was not flowing into the finishing tanks,” Hine said.
“Three staff went to identify the cause of the problem when a valve failed and sprayed them with concentrated sulphuric acid.”
Millennium is world’s second-largest producer of titanium dioxide and a leading producer of titanium chemicals.
Another worker sustained injuries when he came to their aid.
All four suffered acid burns, two severely, one of whom later had to have a leg amputated.
“The investigation by the department found that the valve that failed was from the old pipe work system and was designed to carry 40 percent sulphuric acid,” Hine said.
“The valve was exposed to 98 percent sulphuric acid for an extended period of time. This resulted in the valve diaphragm dissolving and the failure of the valve.”
Millennium’s inspection of the valve failed to notice that it had not been replaced.
Hines stated that the accident could have been avoided if proper safety measures were in place.