Safety a primary comcern at Tyrone plant of Albemarle corporation

Following the explosion at the West Pharmaceutical Services Inc. plant in Kinston, N.C. on Wednesday, The Daily Herald talked with Ivan Riggle, the site compliance manager for Albemarle Corporation’s Tyrone plant.
Investigators developed a theory on what caused the deadly explosion at the medical supply plant even before they could douse a lingering rubber fire and go inside the twisted ruins.
Dust generated in the course of making rubber could have formed a combustible cloud that erupted at the plant, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board said Thursday.
The blast shot flames and debris high into the air and shook buildings miles away Wednesday afternoon. Of about 130 people inside the plant, three were killed and 15 remained hospitalized late Thursday – 10 of them in critical condition.
The Tyrone plant of Albemarle works hand-in-hand with the Blair County Office of Emergency Management to plan for any possible emergency.
“We have a PPC plan,” said Riggle. “The plan is preparedness, prevention and continuency. We list everything that happens inside the plant.”
For years, there has been a community advisory board that helps guide the company in ways that benefit the community.
“We have had a community advisory committee since 1990,” said Riggle. “There are 15 members on the committee. It is a very important communications device between Albemarle and the community.”
Albemarle practices safety from the design to completion of its products.
“We start practicing safety in the design,” said Riggle. “We make sure the ingredients are added in the right order. We have a chemist, engineer and safety coordinator check the recipe, check the the equipment and make sure everything is done in the proper order every time. We walk through the process and eliminate possible problems before we start making the product. We try to addres any safety concerns before start with up front lab work.”
In 2001, Albemarle had a leak and the response of the emergency management team was very quick.
“We work with Rod Barner, the director of the Blair County Emergency Management team and consult with them every two months,” said Riggle. “We have worked with the hazerdous materials team and plan for just about any possible emergency.”
The latest simulation involved the possibility of a sniper in Northwood.
“We had a senario of a sniper in Northwood,” said Riggle. “We first accounted for everyone, then protected against the sniper causing damage.”
Albemarle trains for safety.
“We have an internal response team,” said Riggle. “They receive training in Delaware. They are trained in the insipient stage of firefighting, rescue training and the first responders course. We have a quarterly drill that is part of our PPC plan that we coordinate with the Emergency Management Center. We practice simulated leaks. Our goal is to go above and beyond what we are required to do.”
Riggle credits the Emergency Management Center to help with with Albemarle’s preparedness.
“Those people are the unsung heroes,” said Riggle. “Rene Santone, the HazMat team, Rod Barner and his staff are hard working and ready for any possible emergency.”