VOL. 124 | NO. 149 | Friday, July 31, 2009
Probe of NE Miss. Mueller Plant Explosion Begins
TIMOTHY R. BROWN | Associated Press Writer
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Federal investigators were gathering information Thursday, one day after an explosion killed a man and injured three others at copper tubing plant in northeast Mississippi.
It was the third fatality at the plant since 2008.
Itawamba County Coroner Steven McNeece said Phillip Cason Hosch, 29, of Sulligent, Ala., died in the blast about 4 p.m. Wednesday at Mueller Copper Tube in Fulton.
McNeece said an autopsy on Hosch was planned for Thursday in Jackson. Sulligent, Ala., is about 30 miles from Fulton.
Memphis, Tenn.-based Mueller Industries confirmed three people were injured, but did not release any details on their conditions.
A spokesman for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said the agency has sent officials to investigate the blast.
The plant was evacuated following the explosion and the fire was extinguished about an hour later. A Hazmat team decontaminated people who had chemicals on them, officials said.
John Hansen, president of manufacturing operations for Mueller, said the blast occurred during maintenance that started a fire at the facility.
"Production has been suspended while we work with the appropriate authorities to investigate the cause of the accident and to assess damage to our building and equipment," Hansen said Thursday. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to our employees and their families."
Two others died at the plant last year.
A 30-year-old roofing contractor from Arkansas was killed on Sept. 16, 2008, after falling 40 feet at Mueller Copper Tube. An investigation revealed Xavier Sanders stepped through the roof of the plant, and the gear he was wearing to prevent such a fall failed.
On April 11, 2008, William Creel, 39, of Golden died when his safety harness got caught up in machinery while 30 feet in the air.
The company makes copper tube and fittings, among other products. Mueller Industries also has plants in Arkansas, Tennessee, California, Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania and is located in Canada, Mexico and Great Britain.
The company has four plants – Mueller Copper Tube, Mueller Casting, Mueller Copper Fittings and Mueller Custom Pack – on the same road in Fulton. Mueller Copper Tube is the oldest and largest of the four plants in the complex.
The company's Fulton operation opened in 1969 and employs 300 to 400 employees.
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