EnergySolutions cited for ‘serious’ violations in fatal accident at Erwin; fined $6,450

energysolutionslogo1EnergySolutions, owner of a resin-processing facility at Erwin, Tenn., has been cited for two “serious” violations in an Oct. 14 fatal accident at the plant and issued fines totaling $6,450.

The March 2 report by the Tennessee Division of Occupational Safety and Health was released by Administrator Steve Hawkins under a Tennessee Open Records Act request. Some information, such as the identity of witnesses, was redacted from the accident report.

Fifty-three-year-old Elbert Gary Reedy died en route to the hospital on Oct. 14 after he fell from an upper deck at the Erwin facility into a “transfer vault” — where radioactive resins from commercial nuclear power plants are unloaded before they’re transferred to another area of the plant to be treated, compacted and packaged for disposal. The accident occurred shortly after 9 a.m.

According to the report, the facililty — Erwin ResinSolutions LLC — was cited for having a hole in the floor that did not have a guard, and a situation in which workplace was not adequately evaluated for hazards.

Reedy was reportedly wearing a full-body harness at the time of the fall, having used it in a previous operation. But he apparently wasn’t properly hooked up to use the fall protection while troubleshooting another operation near the hole.

In the report’s conclusion, the state said, “It was determined that Erwin ResinSolutions was insufficient in guarding the floor hole into which an employee could accidentally walk. Although they had a company policy on fall protection and provided fall protection equipment, it was determined that the company did not adequately communicate the standard to their employees. In addition, the company did not provide periodic inspections to ensure that the company policy was being followed.”

Operations at the Erwin facility, where radioactive materials are processed and readied for disposal, were shut down following the accident.

Some operations were resumed in mid-December, with full restart in January.

In its report, the Tennessee Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommended that the Erwin facility install a guard over the hole in the floor to prevent employees from accidentally falling into the pit.

The state’s report said the company has 20 days in which to contest or appeal any parts of the citations and 30 days in which to pay the assessed fines.

In response to questions, EnergySolutions issued this statement:

“We received notification today from TOSHA of its findings regarding the Erwin accident. Throughout the investigation we have worked closely with TOSHA and have already implemented all required corrective actions.  We will work with TOSHA over the next twenty days to finalize this matter.”

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.