Federal panel criticizes Gallatin chemical plant

GALLATIN, Tenn. (AP) – Officials at a Gallatin chemical manufacturing plant should have known that piles of flammable metal dust were a fire hazard.  That's according to findings released Wednesday by the U.S. Chemical Safety Hazard Investigation Board and reported in The Tennessean.

The dust caused two explosions this year at the Hoeganaes Corporation.

One on Jan. 31 killed one maintenance mechanic and severely injured another.  A second fire, on March 29, caused one injury.

Hoeganaes Vice President Mike Mattingly said the company's facilities have fewer reported incidents to OSHA than the national average.

The Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration will release its final report in the next three weeks and decide whether the company should face penalties.

The plant, which produces atomized iron powder for the auto industry, employs 175 people.

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