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OSHA News Release
Region 10

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Region 10 News Release: 06-1651-SEA / (#06-91)
Date: September 28, 2006
Contact: Jeannine Lupton
Phone: 206-553-7620

U.S. Labor Department's OSHA Finds Safety Violations At Blue Sky Biodiesel Plant in New Plymouth, Idaho

SEATTLE -- The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a serious citation against Blue Sky Biodiesel for safety violations found during an inspection at the company's plant in New Plymouth, Idaho.

An employee of the company was killed July 7, while using a torch to cut a vent in a 25,000 gallon tank that contained small amounts of methanol and glycerine. The torch ignited the methanol vapors, causing an explosion and fire.

The citation alleges the company failed to provide adequate training in the physical and health hazards of the chemicals in the work area, failed to clean, ventilate or otherwise inert the metal tank before cutting it with a torch and allowed cutting to take place in the presence of flammable compounds.

Under the terms of an informal settlement agreement, the company has agreed to abate the cited hazards and secure the services of an expert in flammable liquid processing who will review its process controls and safety program. No monetary penalty was levied with the citation.

According to Richard Terrill, OSHA regional administrator, the citation was issued without a monetary penalty because this case involved the death of the son of one of the company's co-owners. "We felt the need to be sensitive to the unusual circumstances of this case while also making sure that the operation would be performed safely in the future. I believe the citation and informal settlement agreement will accomplish that," Terrill said.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act defines a serious violation as one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit


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