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Apple confirms explosions last year at Chinese plants caused by aluminium dust

12 March 2012

In its annual report on its suppliers' efforts in worker safety and environmental impact, Apple said the explosions at facilities operated by Foxconn and Pegatron last year were traced to the ignition of aluminium dust

The Chengdu Foxconn plant explosion in May 2011 killed four and injured 18
The Chengdu Foxconn plant explosion in May 2011 killed four and injured 18

The Chengdu Foxconn plant explosion in May 2011 killed four and injured 18, while a December explosion at a Shanghai subsidiary of Pegatron, injured 59, Apple said. 
Reports at the time of each explosion had identified aluminium dust, produced while milling and polishing the casings of such Apple products as its iMac, MacBook and iPad, as the likely culprit.
Aluminium is more explosive than either sugar or grain dust, more typical causes of dust explosions.
In its report, Apple said that it had worked with external experts to audit all its suppliers that handled aluminium dust, and with one exception, put new measures into place. "We have established new requirements for handling combustible dust throughout our supply chain," said Apple. The company said action had been taken over ventilation, regular inspections of ductwork, and banning the use of compressed air for cleaning, a practice that makes more dust airborne.
"All suppliers except one have implemented the counter-measures identified by the team of external experts," Apple said. "The one supplier that has not will remain shut down until modifications are in place."


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