Second man dies in MS Phosphates explosion

Jeremy Moore

By Monica Land

PASCAGOULA – For the second time in less than two weeks, a second man has been killed at an industrial plant in Pascagoula. Twenty-year-old Jeremy Moore of Moss Point died around 8 a.m. Friday morning after an explosion at Mississippi Phosphates. The explosion killed Moore and injured Jeff Beck and another unidentified worker.

On May 21, a similar explosion occurred that claimed the life of 39-year-old Jeffrey Simpson of Madison. At that time, Simpson’s family expressed concerns about the safety of the plant. Now, with a second fatality, they said their concerns are even greater, WLOX reported.

Brother of Jeffrey Simpson, Michael Simpson (r) and their father, John Simpson (l).

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd said both incidents are the result of some sort of steam explosion.

Moore died of acute hemorrhaging.

Company officials said the explosion that killed Simpson occurred during a maintenance procedure in a portion of the plant that was not operational at the time.

Simpson died of severe head injuries.

Mississippi Phosphates Corporation (MPC) is a major U.S. producer and marketer of diammonium phosphate, or DAP, the most widely used phosphate fertilizer for major row crops. The company’s production facilities are located on a deep-water channel at Pascagoula with direct access to the Gulf of Mexico. MPC’s manufacturing facilities consist of two sulfuric acid plants, a phosphoric acid plant and a DAP granulation plant.

A statement from MPC said: “The incident was and is contained within the plant. The facility is stable, but out of caution, operations have ceased. There is no threat to employees or the public.”

WLOX said the two injured workers were rushed to Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula. Beck was reportedly in good condition at the Pascagoula hospital while the other patient will eventually be transferred to USA Medical Center’s Burn Unit in Mobile.

“We are working closely with response personnel and cooperating with all governmental and regulatory agencies,” the statement continued. “We are continuing to gather information and working to identify the cause of the accident.”

Gulf Live reported that the recent explosions add tragedy to a list of federal violations that have emerged from the Pascagoula plant in recent years.

In 2009, MPC was cited by OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA said that the Pascagoula plant posed a danger to health and the environment because of violations including inadequate safety equipment, improper storage, leaks of sulfuric acid and leaks of phosphoric acid to unlined ditches.

In February, the EPA and the company reached an agreement on corrective actions to address violations in the September 2009 federal order. Company leaders said at that time it would take about $2.5 million to correct the environmental violations.

The EPA noted many of the requirements of the original order have been met, but there are still things to do.

For example, the company discovered corrosive water outside its west stack perimeter dike in January and September 2011, an issue that was added to the order.

Also in 2009, OSHA fined the company $5,000 for what was termed as four serious violations.

Earl Etheridge, state on-scene coordinator for the state Department of Environmental Quality, said there was no danger to the public or the environment. He said plant officials reported no chemical release.

“We are deeply saddened by this incident,” the MPC news release ended. “Our thoughts and prayers are with our employees and their families.”

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