Official: Resolute Forest Products’ Catawba plant is safe

Posted January 22, 2013 11:41 pm | Filed under Local News

Despite a handful of incidents over the last few years — including a deadly workplace accident early Tuesday morning, York County Emergency Management Director Cotton Howell says the Resolute Forest Products plant in Catawba is safe.

Roughly 600 employees work at the Southeastern York County facility and Howell says when you consider the plant turns raw trees into paper using harsh chemicals — he’s surprised to see so few incidents.

Howell’s staff was on-site shortly after first responders were called to the plant off S.C. 5 around 1:30 Tuesday morning.

39-year-old Samir Storey of Indian Trail was killed while suspended 16 feet into a 75-foot decommissioned scrubber tank. Two other men were inside the confined space when Howell says it appears fumes overwhelmed them.

One of those two men was rushed to the hospital for treatment while the third man was treated on site.

Last year, four men were burned after a substance known as “white liquor” leaked in a pulping area. 12 ears ago, two contract welders were killed while connecting pipes in an outdoor tank. Still, Howell says he is impressed with the plant’s safety record.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued Resolute Forest Products’ Catawba a $6,125 fine 2012 for four violations noted as “serious” incidents that could result in death or serious physical harm.