Fluoride Action Network

Osaka chemical factory explosion kills 4

Source: The Mainichi Daily News (Japan) | December 24th, 2009
Industry type: Chemical Industry

OSAKA — An explosion occurred in a chemical factory here on Thursday morning, killing four people, police said.

The explosion occurred near an 8-meter-high boron trifluoride storage tank at Morita Chemical Industries Co.’s Kanzakigawa Plant in Osaka’s Yodogawa Ward. The four who died were working on top of the tank at the time. Osaka Prefectural Police are currently investigating the accident on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in deaths.

Those who died in the explosion are Kazuhiro Hayashi, 47, from Yodogawa Ward; Tatsuya Nakatani, 45, from the Wakayama Prefecture city of Hashimoto; Tomoyuki Kanazawa, 33, from the Osaka Prefecture city of Kashiwara; and Keisuke Nishida, 30, from the Osaka Prefecture city of Toyonaka, police said. Another employee who was working along with the four at the scene survived unhurt.

According to police and other sources, the five employees were removing sludge from the tank at the time. While Hayashi and the others were on top of the tank, the surviving employee was cutting a hole in the tank with an electric saw. Police believe that sparks from the sawing may have caused the explosion.

One of the victims was reportedly thrown on to the roof of another building by the blast.

Boron trifluoride is used in manufacturing petroleum resin. While toxic, boron trifluoride is not flammable.

The blast occurred in the industrial area along the Kanzaki River, about one kilometer north from Higashi-Mikuni Station on the Osaka Municipal Subway Midosuji Line.

According to its official Web site, Morita Chemical Industries was founded in November 1935. It manufactures and sells fluorine compounds for lithium batteries, opacifiers for glasses, raw materials for artificial blood and other medical products.

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