Explosion-Hit Explosives Plant in NW Bulgaria Functioned Despite Numerous Penalty Notices
Bulgaria’s caretaker Labor Minister Yordan Hristoskov informed that the explosives factory near the village of Gorni Lom, which was stricken by a powerful blast on Wednesday, had been issued a number of penalty notices.
The blast at the privately-owned explosives factory near the northwestern Bulgarian village of Gorni Lom left 3 injured, with over 10 people feared dead.
Although no casualties have been reported so far, Svetlozar Lazarov, Chief Secretary of Interior, and Yordan Bakalov, caretaker Interior Minister, have said that the accident most probably resulted in fatalities.
15 people are believed to have been at the plant at the time of the explosion, at around 5 pm on Wednesday, but the number has not been officially confirmed.
Fire safety experts say that there is very small likelihood of survivors.
Hristoskov told journalists Thursday that Bulgaria’s General Labor Inspectorate had conducted an inspection at the plant on August 6, registering13 violations, including outdated equipment, the lack of a second exit at the ammunition utilization unit, and the lack of safety instructions.
Speaking near the site of the explosion, Hristoskov, as cited by Darik radio, made clear that the second exit of a warehouse had been obstructed by a pile of explosives which had been stored there, thereby preventing the people from exiting the building quickly in the case of a breakdown.
He said that the probe had also found that sacks of TNT waste had been left in a number of places between the workshops of the plant, yet again preventing the workers from leaving the building quickly in the case of an emergency.
Hristoskov informed that the company had been issued 7 penalty notices since the beginning of 2014, stressing that labor inspectors had conducted regular checks.
Asked why the factory had not been closed despite the systemic breaches of safety rules, Hristoskov said it had provided the only chance of employment for the locals.
Hristoskov noted, however, that he had been told that the salary at the plant had been very small, the last monthly payment amounting to less than the monthly minimum wage.
Bulgaria’s caretaker Labor Minister told journalists that he was yet to check the reports about the salary rates.
He was adamant that the factory would be closed.
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