Chemical plant cited for serious safety violations.




Posted on March 30, 2012 at 6:50 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 30 at 8:23 PM

WAXAHACHIE - The plant that caused the massive chemical fire in Waxahachie last year has been cited for serious federal safety violations. 

The violations stem from the explosion and fire that took place on October 3 at the Magnablend chemical mixing plant in Waxahachie. Inside the plant were hundreds of containers of chemicals used in the blending of fracking fluids, including the highly explosive element hydrogen. 

Now, nearly six months after the accident, OSHA officials have cited Magnablend's owner for seven serious violations, including insufficient ventilation, an inadequate sprinkler system, inadequate worker training and failure to conduct hazard assessments at the plant.

Just days after the explosion, former employee Eric Kelly told News 8 that the plant was an accident waiting to happen.

"I told them this is really dangerous and you need to fix this and they never changed anything," he said.

According to OSHA officials, not only were conditions inside the plant dangerous, they were life-threatening. As a result, the government is recommending a $45,000 fine.

David Vance, of Waxahachie and one of Magnablend's chief critics, said the punishment in no way fits the offense.

"If somebody had died, the fine would have been much worse," he said. "We are lucky nobody did, and thankfully nobody did, but they are saying putting people's lives on the line is only worth $45,000."

When WFAA attempted to interview Magnablend's owner for a response to the fine, he disappeared inside a storage building and did not return calls.

While the OSHA fine can be appealed, the owner still faces an investigation by the Texas Department of Environmental Quality, the results of which are expected to be made public in the coming days.