MATSUYAMA, Ehime Pref. – One worker was killed and 14 others were injured, one seriously, in a carbon monoxide leak Wednesday at a chemical plant in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, police said.
Masanori Uda, 30, of Fujiken Engineering Co., a subcontractor to the plant owned by Tokyo-based Teijin Chemicals Ltd., died after being hospitalized, police said.
In addition to the employee listed in serious condition, three of the workers will need to be hospitalized for at least three weeks, according to firefighters.
Ten of those taken to the hospital were Teijin Chemicals workers, and four were employees of another subcontractor, Koan Keiso.
Emergency personnel received a call at around 10:20 a.m. and found the 15 workers unconscious on the second floor of Plant A in the factory complex owned by Teijin Chemicals, a wholly owned unit of the major textile company Teijin Ltd.
The plant produces polycarbonate resin, a type of plastic used in CDs and DVDs.
It was undergoing a regular inspection that began at around 8:30 a.m. and some of the machinery inside was not operating.
According to Teijin Chemicals, staff were in the middle of replacing a valve on a carbon monoxide tank.
Police are investigating to determine if the death and injuries were due to professional negligence.
There are five carbon monoxide tanks at Plant A and three of them had been stopped for the inspection.
According to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the plant produces Japan’s largest amounts of polycarbonate resin for CDs and is the world’s biggest manufacturer of the resin for DVDs.
Teijin Chemicals’ main line of business is production and sales of polycarbonate resin. Capitalized at 2.1 billion yen and with a staff of 700, the firm has branches and factories in five locations in Japan. It has subsidiaries in the United States and other countries.