POCA, W.Va. -- Airgas has announced it will close the Putnam County facility where two employees were injured in a fire in May.
The plant, located on W.Va. 62 in Poca, had been operating at a limited capacity since May, when about 50 tanks of acetylene, a chemical used in welding, exploded in a concrete-enclosed storage area located on the site.
According to Sarah Stockton-Brown, communications manager for Airgas, the decision to close the plant was not a direct result of the accident but did prompt an evaluation of the facility, which resulted in the decision.
"We review our locations on a regular basis to ensure that they are operating under peak conditions, and due to the reduced capacity of the plant, we have decided to close it," she said.
Stockton-Brown said the production of the Poca plant has been shifted to other regional facilities, and the 12 workers who lost their jobs due to the site's closure have received a severance package.
An OSHA investigation completed earlier this month found the six violations at the Poca plant. OSHA proposed $19,000 in penalties for the violations, which Airgas has contested.
According to the company's website, Airgas is "the largest U.S. distributor of industrial, medical and specialty gases, and hard goods, such as welding equipment and supplies. Airgas is also a leading U.S. producer of atmospheric gases, carbon dioxide, dry ice, and nitrous oxide, one of the largest U.S. distributors of safety products, and a leading U.S. distributor of refrigerants, ammonia products, and process chemicals."