Columbus Manufacturing to Cough UP $ 850,000 Over Ammonia Leak in August 2009

With the hospitalization of 17 people at a South San Francisco Columbus manufacturing facility due to an ammonia leak, the company has decided to cough up $ 850,000 as well as carry safety upgrades at the plant.

These actions were agreed upon by the company due to the lawsuit filed by the San Mateo District Attorney’s Office that accused the sausage-making giant of not training employees on how to handle hazardous materials along with not updating safety information as well as not conducting proper safety reviews of new safety equipment.

These accusations were due to the fact that in August 2009, a new refrigeration system installed on the roof exposed seventeen workers to about 200 pounds of ammonia.

The District Attorney’s Office viewed this whole incident as serious, and in making a settlement with the company, ensured that $ 550,000 of the total amount was in civil penalties while the rest of the amount was to cover for the emergency response to the plight of the workers as well as the investigation that led to the lawsuit.

Of course, the company did not accept any wrongdoing to the incident, and blamed it on the contractor who had apparently not done a professional job with the refrigeration unit in question.

As a part of this settlement, Columbus Manufacturing now has to install ammonia-leak sensors as well as a system that will notify employees and neighbors if an ammonia leak ever occurred again.

Evergreen Solar Manufacturing Plant in Devens, MA Will Close Down

Devens, MA has become the latest manufacturing casualty, thanks to an uncertain solar market and with the company in question, Evergreen Solar, making an attempt to cut costs in order to stay in the game. The truth is that they have had no choice but to set up shop in September in China in order to compete with Chinese based manufacturers.

With over 800 employees at this facility, the operations of this manufacturing plant will come to a complete halt before March 31, while also expecting a total charge of $ 355 million due to the closure. There is no doubt that this amount will affect the Q4 2010 and Q1 2011 results substantially.

Of course, it’s obvious that the company did not have a choice as competing globally while being a manufacturer in the United States makes it well and truly difficult to keep up with their competitors. However, the good news is that the company has decided to keep its high temperature filament plant open in Michigan.

According to the company’s CEO, El Hillow, China has received considerable government and financial support, and in also being able to keep manufacturing costs low, they have become price leaders of the solar market despite the continued pressure on selling prices throughout 2010.

And while the United States will continue to benefit from these low-cost solar units, yet this does not bode well for manufacturers to set up their plants in the United States at least for the short-term.