A chemical spill at the Ultium Cells battery plant in Ohio has resulted in a pause in the facility’s cathode mixing area where the spill occurred. An investigation is currently underway by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). It’s unclear at this time how the spill and subsequent pause in the cathode mixing area may affect battery production.
As GM Authority covered yesterday, and initially reported by The Detroit News, the chemical spill occurred this past weekend at the Ultium Cells battery plant in Ohio. The spill included a slurry that contained N-Methylpyrrolidone, or NMP, which is solvent used for dissolving polymers to create battery materials. According to Automotive News, NMP can enter the body either through direct skin contact, through inhalation of vapor, or through spray droplets. This chemical can cause irritation and affect the central nervous system, as well as potentially cause reproduction issue.
In an email to Automotive News, Ultium spokesperson Katie Burdette said that mixing operations in the area were put on pause, and that no operators were present in the area at the time of the spill, adding that there were no employee exposure or injuries.
Operations in the area will remain on hold until a full cleanup has been performed, an inspection for damage is performed, and the area is once again deemed safe for operations to resume. Burdette indicates that Ultium has hired a third-party to assist in the cleanup process. It’s unclear at this time how long the area will remain idled.
The OSHA is also investigating the matter in order to determine if employees were exposed to any significant risk, and if Ultium will face citations or fines for any potential safety violations. There are six open inspections at the Ultium Cells plant in Ohio, with five inspections now closed. The company has paid a total of $31,078 in fines for OSHA workplace violations thus far. Production at the facility officially got underway last September. The facility is operated as a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solution.