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Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 11:46am

Explosive Dust Found At Cotton Plant

A Georgia cotton manufacturing plant faces multiple citations from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration for allowing buildup of explosive dust.

The investigation came after an employee at Parkdale America in Northeast Georgia’s Franklin County was killed falling from a ladder last year.

OSHA officials say poor ventilation systems at the plant exposed employees to high levels of cotton dust.

It’s one of the leading causes of brown lung disease in textile workers but also can cause explosions like the one that destroyed the Imperial Sugar refinery in Savannah three years ago.

Bill Fulcher of OSHA’s Atlanta office says the levels weren’t nearly as bad as those found in Savannah, but gone unchecked could have endangered workers.

"The cotton dust had accumulated on air ducts and on top of machinery in the carting room that exceeded three eighths inch in depth at some points," says Fulcher.

OSHA also cited the North Carolina based firm for not posting signs where dust accumulated and for not having a medical program to help employees exposed to dust.

The company faces $67,377 in fines.

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