Investigation May Require Wacker Chemical To Close For Several Months

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

After the incident at Wacker’s U.S. production site in Charleston, root-cause investigation work is now underway.  Global President Wacker Polysilicon Tobias Brandis said the plant may be closed for several months for the investigation.

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.

Wacker has engaged an independent expert team to determine the root cause of the incident and is cooperating with governmental authorities to ensure a safe resumption of operations. Financial effects on Wacker stemming from this incident are expected to be only minor due to insurance coverage for damages and loss of production, said officials. 

As already reported, an equipment malfunction led to a hydrogen explosion at the polysilicon production plant in Charleston. 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, said officials. 

“While we are working diligently towards resuming production, the safety of our employees and the community is our top priority,” said Mr. Brandis. “Therefore, production will not start until a thorough inspection is completed and it is certain that the facility is safe. During the production downtime, we will use personnel to support repair efforts and other site activities as needed. We also will use this downtime to provide our employees with advanced training courses.” 

Wacker is in close contact with its customers and will keep them informed on polysilicon availability.



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