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Florida Chemical Plant Cited In Fatal Blast

Owners of a chemical plant where a December explosion killed four workers were accused of violating OSHA federal safety standards.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- The owners of a chemical plant where a December explosion killed four workers were cited Wednesday, accused of violating federal safety standards.

A report from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that T2 Laboratories Inc. lacked a blast-resistant control room, a backup water supply to cool a high-pressure reactor and emergency response plans.

The company has 15 days to contest the violations or pay $12,650 in fines.

G. Alan Howard, an attorney for the lab, said he had not had an opportunity to review the report with his clients but that the company would dispute certain citations. He would not say which.

''T2 was in compliance of all laws at the time of this tragic accident,'' Howard said.

The blast occurred Dec. 19 as workers were mixing chemicals in a batch reactor to produce an additive to increase the octane rating of gasoline. Witnesses told investigators there was loud hissing and vapor venting before the vessel exploded.

Its flammable contents mixed with air and ignited, releasing large amounts of thermal energy, investigators with the Chemical Safety Board said. The explosion and resulting fireball caused a 2,000-foot mushroom cloud.

The company was also accused of having inadequate emergency plans for evacuation and training with hazardous chemicals.

Killed in the blast were company co-owner Robert Scott Gallagher, 49; Charles Budds Bolchoz, 48; Karey Renard Henry, 35; and Parish Lamar Ashley, 36.

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