Hayes Lemmerz Plant Restarts

Cause still sought for explosion that killed one

Hayes Lemmerz Intl. reported that its Huntington, IN, foundry, machinery, and finishing operations have been restarted after a series of accidental explosions last week closed the facility. The October 29 accident caused isolated damage to one corner of the building where aluminum chips are reprocessed, the automotive wheel manufacturer said. Local news reports say the roof of the building was blown open by the explosion. Hayes Lemmerz explained that no damage was done to areas where wheels are produced or machined.

According to news reports, the cause of the accident is still not determined though aluminum dust is suspected. And, the company said it is working with government agencies to deterimine the cause.

One maintenance worker died from burns suffered in the accident. In all, seven people are reported to have been injured. One injured worker remains hospitalized. Two of the injured are reported to be contractors for an environmental engineering firm who were inspecting the plant's emissions controls.

Hayes said employees and contractors started returning to work over the weekend to carry out safety inspections, prior to restarting. Regular operations started again on November 2. The company said it is working with customers to minimize the impact of the interruption on their businesses.

Company chairman and CEO Curtis Clawson, said, "We are saddened by the injuries and loss of life resulting from this accident. We extend our deepest sympathy to the families, friends, and co-workers of the employees affected by this accident."

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