This past weekend, a chemical spill was reported at the Ultium Cells battery plant in Ohio, leading to an investigation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The Ultium facility is the product of a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solution, first launching operations last year. The OHSA has six open investigations into the Ultium Ohio plant, and the UAW has criticized the Ultium as prioritizing profits over safety at the facility.
According to a report from The Detroit News, a slurry containing battery materials and a hazardous solvent spilled on the ground around equipment at the Ultium Ohio plant’s mixing department. The slurry contained a chemical that dissolves polymers to create battery materials, and could cause harm if exposed to workers, including reproduction issues and nervous system issues.
The OHSA is now collecting details on the incident, how Ultium addressed the incident, and whether employees are still at risk. In an email to The Detroit News, an Ultium spokesperson said that operations will remain paused in the area until it is deemed safe. It’s currently unclear how this incident may affect production.
As GM Authority covered last month, the United Auto Workera (UAW) labor union has raised safety concerns for workers at the Ultium Ohio plant, demanding that stricter safety precautions are put in place following multiple incidents at the facility. One worker was reportedly sprayed with poisonous gasses while working with electrodes, while another employee was witnessed disposing toxic materials in a trash can.
GM is under pressure to fold workers at the Ultium Cells plant in Ohio into the broader national labor contract between General Motors and the UAW. The UAW and the Big Three Detroit autoworkers are currently engaged in contract negotiations that will determine labor terms for the next several years. Negotiations are reportedly slow-going, and the UAW has threatened to strike if its terms are not met.