Maine paper mill appeals OSHA haz-mat citations

Maine paper mill appeals OSHA haz-mat citations

A Maine pulp and paper mill is contesting the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s citation for 37 violations of its standards, including permitting workers to enter a hazardous-materials area without proper respiratory protection.

The citation, stemming from an incident at International Paper in Jay, Me., in May 1987, carries a proposed penalty of $242,000. The company has appealed the finding to the OSHA Review Commission.

Of the violations issued against the company October 26, 34 fall into OSHA’s alleged willful violations category. Among them are letting workers enter an area containing unknown concentrations of chlorine, chlorine dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide with no or improper respiratory protection; failure to positively identify pipelines carrying hazardous substances; failure to train employees in the company’s hazardous communication program and to properly select, use, and maintain respirators; and failure to have written regulations on the use of respirators.

The alleged violations classified as serious were failure to implement a haz-mat-spill emergency response plan; not training workers how to respond to a haz-mat spill; and failure to provide a proper medical surveillance program for employees responding to a haz-mat spill.

International Paper says the OSHA investigation reached false conclusions. Its response, read by a company spokesman, claims that the citations are “substantially without merit” and that International Paper is “prepared to present evidence of good-faith compliance with OSHA standards. International Paper will continue its longtime commitment to a proper, safe environment for all employees.”

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