Local News

State fines scrap plant for ammo explosion

Posted June 2, 2008 11:55 a.m. EDT
Updated June 2, 2008 1:27 p.m. EDT

— A scrap-metals plant has agreed to pay a $3,580 fine for workplace-safety violations that led to military ordnance exploding at the plant four months ago.

Two workers were injured Feb. 12 when military munitions in a load of scrap metal exploded at at Raleigh Metals Recycling, a scrap processing plant on Garner Road.

A team of munitions experts from Fort Bragg spent four days locating and detonating more than 30 explosive devices at the scrap plant. Garner Road had to be shut down, and nearby residents were forced from their homes during the operation.

Four men have been detained in the case, and authorities located other munitions at a mobile home park in Sanford.

During three inspections after the incident, the state Department of Labor's Division of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) found 14 safety violations at the plant.

The most serious was a violation of the "general duty clause," which says employers must furnish workers with a hazard-free workplace. Five serious and three other violations were found in a safety inspection, and two serious and three other violations were found in a health inspection.

OSH assessed $4,950 in fines against Raleigh Metals Recycling in April, but company officials asked for an informal meeting with regulators to discuss the case. The officials agreed not to contest the findings of the inspections and to correct the violations in exchange for a reduced fine.

City officials are awaiting a report from the Army and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to determine where the munitions came from and how they ended up at the plant.

The City Council is considering tightening local ordinances governing recycling plants to prevent similar problems.