Glue plant searched for evidence


Police on Monday searched the offices of a glue factory in Waki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, run by Mitsui Chemicals Inc. after explosions there Sunday killed one worker and injured 22 others.

Investigators were expected to confiscate documents on the plant’s operation standards as they probe the cause of a series of explosions at around 2:15 a.m. Sunday that shattered windows at 400 places around it.

In the meantime, an autopsy will be performed on the body of Shota Sunakawa, 22, to determine the cause of his death. Officials at the plant are being questioned on suspicion of professional negligence.

Inspections of the site won’t begin until Tuesday or later because there is still flammable gas at the facilities, they added.

Mitsui Chemicals said it will launch an internal probe to investigate the cause of the explosion and that the factory, which was attempting to suspend operations when the accident happened, will halt all other operations, the company said.

Indefinite closure

WAKI, Yamaguchi Pref.

There is no immediate plan to restart the Mitsui Chemicals Inc. complex that was hit by explosions on Sunday, the manager said.

“We will investigate the cause of the explosion and take preventive measures. We will also probably receive a suspension order from regulatory authorities,” Manager Shigeru Hara said at a news conference at the plant site on Sunday.

The complex, which mainly produces materials for glue and plastic bottles, stopped more than 20 facilities following the explosion in the wee hours of Sunday.

Mitsui Chemicals said the plant complex straddles Waki and Iwakuni, both in Yamaguchi, and Otake, Hiroshima Prefecture, and has a workforce of about 900.

The complex started operating in 1958 as Japan’s first comprehensive petrochemical plant, according to its brochure.