Wacker Charleston Plant Is Open, All Personnel Employed

Production To Resume Only After Thorough Inspection

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Wacker-Charleston plant is open. All site personnel remain employed as various work continues following the Sept. 7 incident. 

According to Mary Beth Hudson, vice president Polysilicon, site manager – Charleston, the company "is working carefully and diligently towards resuming production."

Ms. Hudson noted production will only resume at the plant "after a thorough inspection has been completed, following conclusion of the third-party expert investigation and after all necessary repairs have been made." 

“Restarting production will take several months,” said Ms. Hudson. “We will take our time and cover all the necessary steps before the production process restarts.” 

Ms. Hudson added that Wacker employees are supporting repair efforts and other site activities during the interim period. Wacker Charleston has removed the chemicals from the building where the hydrogen gas leak and explosion occurred on Sept. 7. 

“This removal process was meticulous and efficient," said Ms. Hudson.  "Safety was and continues to be our top priority and focus."

Ms. Hudson noted the physical damage to the building was not as significant as initially thought. The building has been stabilized. The company continues its ongoing air quality monitoring at the site. These levels remain safe, according to Ms. Hudson. 

“We are confident Wacker-Charleston will become stronger and better,” said Ms. Hudson. “We appreciate all the support we have received as well as the constructive feedback from our team
members and the community. This feedback has been helpful as we strive long-term to be among the best corporate citizens for our community and for our state.”

The explosion on Sept. 7 was caused by a technical defect prompting a leak of hydrogen which subsequently caught fire, thereby severely damaging a small, but important facility of the production plant. 

An equipment malfunction led to a hydrogen explosion at the polysilicon production plant. As a result, damaged piping leaked chlorosilane, a chemical that creates hydrogen chloride as it comes into contact with moisture in the air. 

Assisted by external emergency responders, the site’s firefighters immediately contained the chemical with water. During the incident, two site employees were evaluated at the local hospital and were released the same day. Thanks to the immediate action of all response teams involved, there was no risk to the community, officials said. 

AUDIO: County Commission Meeting 4/25/2018

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