Thursday, April 3, 2003

Explosion at Addyston plant kills Cleves man

By David Eck
Enquirer contributor

ADDYSTON - A worker was killed Wednesday in the second fatal industrial accident in Hamilton County in three days.

Kevin Cook, 45, of Cleves died after an explosion at the Bayer Polymers plant along the Ohio River. The explosion occurred around 4 a.m. as Cook was working a 12-hour shift.

Company investigators are still trying to determine what exploded and what caused the blast in a plastics manufacturing unit, Bayer spokesman Kenneth Perica said.

"The whole incident is very perplexing from our standpoint. Things seemed to be normal," Perica said.

Cook had worked at the plant since 1995, Perica said. No other employees were involved and no other injuries were reported.

"He had worked in other chemical manufacturing prior to coming here," Perica said. "He was a willing volunteer and participant in extra things that were going on in the plant."

The sprawling 130-acre Bayer plant, about 15 miles west of Cincinnati, makes plastics used in several industries, including automotive, medical, pipe and computer.

The plant, which dates to the early 1950s and for years was a Monsanto facility, was acquired by Bayer in 1996.

The blast was contained in the manufacturing building, and no environmental damage occurred, officials said.

"There was really no significant release to the environment of any chemicals," Perica said. "It was a very localized explosion."

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also investigating the explosion. A review of OSHA records shows that the plant was inspected in 2000 and no violations were found.

"This is a first in many, many years when we've had a serious incident like this," Perica said. "We try to instill in all of our employees a strong work ethic around safety. We feel very proud of our record. We need to find out what happened, what went wrong."

Counselors were called to the plant to help co-workers deal with the death.

On Monday, Joyce Spencer died at the United States Playing Card Co. plant in Norwood after a support on a freight elevator she was using failed and two huge rolls of paper shifted.


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