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Site of Salt Lake City chemical plant explosion no stranger to violations

Posted at 7:16 AM, Jul 25, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Two employees were injured in a chemical plant explosion near Interstate 215 and California Avenue early Monday.

READ: Thatcher Company’s chemical leak is latest in series of incidents involving facility

The report came in around 5:30 a.m. and Salt Lake City fire crews were dispatched to the Thatcher chemical plant where the explosion occurred.

“It was heard by many people, even several blocks away,” said Div. Chief Dan Walker with the Salt Lake City Fire Department.

One of the injured employees was treated on scene, while the other was transported to the hospital.

The cause of the explosion is still unknown, but neighbors who live nearby are safe.

“There was no release of any toxins or anything that was going to be a concern to the community,” added Walker.

Although everything appears safe, that has not always been the case at the plant. In 2019, a sulfur dioxide leak at Thatcher impacted at least 56 workers.

Over the past 20 years, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the company several times for violations. FOX 13 News found two serious violations in 2004, two in 2013, and 19 serious violations and 4 willful violations following the 2019 accident.

For the 2019 case. fines were lowered from nearly $300,000 to $22,500 after a "formal settlement," but OSHA did not respond to questions about the fines Tuesday.

The previous incidents listed also don’t include five federal penalties handed down by the Environmental Protection Agency since 1992, with the most recent occurring when the agency issued a $300,415 fine in 2019 after an investigation found Thatcher didn’t properly register pesticide products sold by distributors.

As for the most recent explosion, Walker said it remains under investigation.

“They're working with the company as well with OSHA and other agencies to determine the cause so that we could not have this happen again,” he said.