German chemical group Wacker Chemie’s U.S. polysilicon production facility was shut down last September after an explosion occurred, which was caused by a hydrogen leak.
“The production in Charleston is currently still halted, but we expect it to restart in the spring,” a spokesman for the Munich-based Group told pv magazine. A technical defect is said to have caused the explosion.
However, halting production in Charleston is not the only problem Wacker Chemie is currently facing in the United States. Tennessee state health and safety officials are also investigating other potential violations.
Wacker is potentially in violation of a number of regulations pertaining to the maintenance operations conducted at the U.S. plant on August 30, 2017, seven days prior to the accident.
“It is true that we received two relevant communications (notifications) from the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA),” the Wacker spokesperson confirmed in a report published by the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
This, however, is not related to the accident at the U.S. plant on 7 September. “There are several complaints that relate to personal protective equipment, operations and hazard analysis for certain maintenance work,” said the spokesman.
According to the Chattanooga Times report, Wacker Chemie will pay more than $ 20,000 in penalties. It could also legally oppose the fines.
“We will carefully examine the issues that TOSHA complains about and then react accordingly,” said the Wacker Chemie spokesman.