MARIETTA - The shutdown of Eramet Marietta's No. 18 ferromanganese furnace due to an operational incident Sunday evening will apparently impact the company's production schedule for an as-yet undetermined period of time.
On Monday Eramet officials declared a "force majeure event" - an unanticipated and uncontrollable incident that may affect the company's ability to fulfill its contracts.
"When there's an inability to deliver a product, a force majeure declaration provides some protection for the company and allows us to set the wheels in motion to allocate some portions of the product to our customers," said Joy Frank-Collins, spokeswoman for Eramet Marietta.
She said no timeframe has been established for how long the force majeure declaration will remain in effect.
"But this was also a large enough event that it could possibly interrupt production for our customers," Frank-Collins said. "And we're keeping our customers updated on production issues on as timely a schedule as possible."
She noted that no employees were injured during the incident that occurred during a tapping of the No. 18 furnace around 8 p.m. Sunday.
"The safety of our employees is the most important to us, hands-down," she said. "Anytime you're working in an industrial environment there are potential safety issues. But we have safety procedures in place and are thrilled that those have worked.
"Our employees stepped up to the plate and did what they were trained to do," Frank-Collins said.
"And no emission event took place as a result of the incident," she said, adding that there was no danger to the public.
She said the incident was reported as a courtesy to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
"We received a report from Eramet concerning their No. 18 furnace on Monday morning, and it apparently occurred during the tapping process," said Christina Wieg with OEPA's Division of Air Pollution Control.
"We're currently working with Eramet as they continue their investigation into the incident," she said.
The No. 18 furnace shutdown leaves the company with only one of its three manganese furnaces in operation.
Frank-Collins said the No. 12 ferromanganese furnace has been taken off line as it is in the initial phases of a revitalization process.
That leaves the No. 1 furnace, which was revitalized in 2008, to cover production.
But Frank-Collins noted that the No. 1 furnace is configured to produce silicomanganese, and will have to be reconfigured to process ferromanganese.