An Ohio ethanol production facility faces $149,800 in fines after investigators found multiple violations of chemical and grain-handling standards at Three Rivers Energy LLC, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA issued 42 serious and four other-than serious safety and health violations following three separate inspections at the Coshocton, OH, bio-refinery in November.

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“Biofuels like ethanol are a fast-growing part of the energy sector. Its manufacture can involve potentially dangerous chemical reactions. Workers in biofuel facilities must be properly trained to operate equipment and respond to emergencies,” said Linda Harrington, OSHA’s acting area director in Columbus. “In addition to hazards in the manufacturing process, the storage of corn used in ethanol exposes workers to grain handling hazards like dust ignition and engulfment as workers move corn from storage to the processing area. Employers must protect workers from these hazards during their production processes.”

Inspectors found Three Rivers Energy’s ethanol production violated OSHA’s process safety management regulations including failing to:
• Develop written procedures for safely conducting tasks in the process, and for maintaining the ongoing integrity of equipment
• Train operators
• Correct equipment deficiencies
• Establish an incident investigation team and maintain accurate records
• Maintain adequate drawings and diagrams of pipes and instruments used in the chemical process
• Implement an emergency response plan for the plant and train workers in emergency response procedures

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Other violations included failing to:
• Conduct personal protective equipment assessments
• Develop procedures and implement permit confined space requirements including testing atmospheric conditions and providing emergency and rescue equipment
• Train workers on grain bin safety and rescue operations
• Develop a written housekeeping program to remove grain dust and spills from the work area
• Install safeguards on machinery and live electrical parts

Three Rivers processes 16 million bushels of corn annually and has an annual production of more than 46 million gallons of ethanol. In June 2012, Three Rivers Energy, a partnership involving Lakeview Energy and Crestwood Biofuels, acquired the business.

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