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ArcelorMittal repairs at Pa. plant halt; probe continues

Keywords: Tags  ArcelorMittal USA, Coatesville, EF, electric-arc furnace, Philadelphia, carbon steel plate, explosion, Judge Leon Tucker workplace safety

NEW YORK — An accident at ArcelorMittal USA LLC’s Coatesville, Pa., plant remains under investigation, a spokeswoman said June 4, the same day a Philadelphia county court judge’s order to halt repairs to the facility’s damaged melt shop was due to expire.

"The health and safety of our employees remains our No. 1 priority, and we are committed to ensuring that the investigation is complete before returning to normal operations," an ArcelorMittal spokeswoman said, noting an ongoing investigation by the company, the United Steelworkers union and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. " Because this matter is the subject of litigation, ArcelorMittal is unable to respond further at this time."

The order to halt repairs, issued last week and effective through June 4, followed an incident at the Chicago-based company’s Coatesville plant that resulted in the injury of three employees and temporarily idled the furnace (, May 24).

According to documents filed in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Law Division, plaintiffs alleged that the May 23 accident at ArcelorMittal’s "D" electric-arc furnace caused "catastrophic" injuries. When the plaintiffs sent a letter to the steelmaker demanding "preservation of evidence" and an immediate inspection of its melt shop, ArcelorMittal informed them that it had already begun repairs due to business needs and would deny an inspection.

In a May 31 ruling, Judge Leon Tucker ordered all computer logs and videos to be printed out and preserved for the plaintiff’s experts as they relate to the explosion. He ordered an inspection of the site, to be conducted June 3, and for the company to "cease all repairs in the subject melt shop until counsel for plaintiffs have had a full opportunity to inspect the location to the subject explosion, not to exceed June 4, 2013."

The petitioners did not respond to requests for comment.

ArcelorMittal’s Coatesville facility produces a range of carbon and alloy plate products and has a raw steel capacity of some 900,000 tons annually, according to the company’s website. The plant includes an EF, vacuum degasser, ingot teeming, slab caster, two plate mills and heat-treating and finishing facilities.

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