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US fish oil plant blast kills one, injures three

29 July 2014

One man died and three others were injured in an explosion at the Omega Protein fish processing plant at Moss Point, Mississippi, on July 28. Moss Point Fire Chief Tommy Posey said the men were repairing a fish oil storage tank when the top blew off, killing an employee who was carrying out welding work on the top of the tank when it exploded.

Stock image
Stock image

The other injured workers were on the ground near the tank, Posey said. One of the injured men was in critical condition and undergoing surgery. The other two have been released from a local hospital.

The incident involved employees of a subcontractor who were working on two tanks. There was no fire after the explosion.

Omega Protein operates a menhaden fishing fleet on the Mississippi coast, with a processing plant and adjacent shipyard in Moss Point that employ about 300 people.

The Houston-based company produces fish oil and fish meal for human consumption and for use in aquaculture, agriculture and industrial applications. Omega Protein has 5 manufacturing plants and employs 1,000 people throughout the United States, according to its website.
The Moss Point plant has had some safety issues in the past. In April, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined the Moss Point plant $3,341 because of  violations of sanitation rules and failure to provide proper machine protection.

In 2012, an Omega Protein worker was killed when he was caught in a rotating screw conveyor, an accident that federal investigators have since said was avoidable.

OSHA initially cited Omega for 25 violations after the fatality. That was reduced to 22 violations and a fine of $50,000 against the non-union plant. Omega was cited for, among other things, failing to make sure machinery was properly locked down when it was being worked on and failing to properly secure floor and wall openings.

In May 2011, three men were killed aboard an Omega Protein fishing boat called the Sandy Point, which collided with a 660-foot container ship in the Gulfport, Mississippi ship channel.

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