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Pennsylvania Strong

Keystone State weathers two brutal work accidents in a week

The state of Pennsylvania was hit by tragedy and panic each within in the last week, both times in the industrial sector. One incident occurred at a factory near Reading, where 7 fatalities have been confirmed; while another was an factory spill outside Philadelphia affecting the water supply of the city and other surrounding areas.

Electrical Apparatus would like to extend our thoughts and condolences to anyone affected by these events. Both companies have since issued statements regarding the accidents.

Altuglas LLC of Bristol, Pa., said March 26 it is working with local, state and federal agencies to clean up the release of a latex emulsion product from its manufacturing facility. The release, which occurred Friday evening, March 24, "appears to be the result of an equipment failure," Altuglas said in an official statement posted on its website. "Some of the material overflowed the on-site containment system and entered a storm drain, where it flowed to Otter Creek and then to the Delaware River." No injuries were reported as a result of the release or the cleanup activities. Altuglas, a subsidiary of Trinseo PLC, notified authorities of the release and took steps to prevent the further migration of material to the storm drain. Trinseo estimates that 8,100 gallons of solution — approximately 50% water and the remainder latex polymer — was spilled. The latex emulsion is a white liquid that is used in various consumer goods. Its pigmentation makes the water-soluble material visible in surface water. Altuglas and regulatory agencies are testing water samples in the surrounding area to confirm that the material is not a threat to people or wildlife. Representatives of local, state, and federal agencies have responded and are onsite. Altuglas personnel are working closely with these agencies and first responders to complete cleanup activities. “As a Responsible Care® company, the safety of our employees, our communities and our environment are a top priority for us. We are conducting a thorough assessment of all of our systems and processes to identify and address potential vulnerabilities and will take the steps necessary to close any gaps,” Trinseo CEO Frank Bozich said. “One of the principles of Responsible Care is to be accountable and responsive to the public, especially our local communities, who have the right to understand the risks and benefits of what we do. The release of material has been stopped and our efforts are now focused on testing the local waterways. We are grateful for the fast response and professionalism of our local first responders, as well as the efforts of the U.S. EPA, the Pennsylvania DEP and the United States Coast Guard.” Meanwhile, about an hour northwest in Reading, Pa., workers at RM Palmer mourned the loss of their fellow employees and loved ones.

"Everyone at RM Palmer is devastated by the tragic events at one of our West Reading facilities and we are focused on supporting our employees and their families," the company said in a statement earlier this week. "We have lost close friends and colleagues, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of all who have been impacted. We are sincerely grateful for the extraordinary efforts of all of the first responders and for the support of our Reading community, which has been home to our business for more than 70 years. We will continue to coordinate closely with local and national agencies to assist in the recovery process."

"We are anxious to be in touch with all employees and the families of employees who have been impacted, but the company’s email, phones, and other communication systems are down, and therefore we are relying currently on first responders and disaster recovery organizations to provide any available information to impacted families. We will be providing additional information and making contact with employees, impacted families, and the community as soon as possible."

The RM Palmer chocolate factory in West Reading, Pa., as it was before a recent fatal fire.—RM Palmer photo

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