Staff photo by Doug Strickland / Clouds billow from the Wacker polysilicon chemical plant after an explosion released a hydrogen chemical gas on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, in Charleston, Tenn.

Read Wacker's full statement below.

Wacker Polysilicon spokeswoman Lisa Mantooth wrote that it is "premature to address the citations in any detail or speculate as to how they might be resolved" after the company was cited for serious violations that resulted in more than $20,000 in fines.

Five workers at the plant were sent to an area hospital after suffering chemical burns Aug. 30. 

The Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration found the company did not develop or implement safe work practices and did not require workers to wear necessary safety equipment while working with chemicals. 

Mantooth did not answer a series of questions about why safeguards were not in place prior to the incident.

"As we have from the beginning, we will continue to cooperate with TOSHA and work diligently through TOSHA's standard process to address these findings," she wrote. "WACKER takes seriously its responsibility for the safety of its team members and community. We are committed to proactively looking for opportunities to improve our safety program and are grateful for TOSHA's feedback as we move forward."

Mantooth acknowledged the company received the citations but did not specify if the company will accept the findings. 

Wacker must pay the fines within 30 days or legally contest the agency's decision.  

Two investigations into a separate incident are ongoing. An explosion released a cloud of hydrochloric acid into the air on Sept. 7, alarming the community, sending several residents to area hospitals and locking down nearby schools.

TOSHA and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation are investigating that incident.

Contact staff writer Mark Pace at or 423-757-6361. Follow him on Twitter @themarkpace and on Facebook @ChattanoogaOutdoors.

Wacker Statement - Feb. 26, 2018

WACKER-Charleston received from TOSHA two citations pertaining to the inadvertent and unexpected release of chemicals during maintenance of removed process equipment on August 30, 2017.

These citations are unrelated to the incident on September 7, 2017, which resulted in the temporary shutdown of the facility while repairs can be made. We expect to receive separate findings from TOSHA regarding the September 7, 2017 incident in the near future.

The citations issued by TOSHA relate primarily to protective clothing, procedures, and hazard analysis pertaining to the maintenance activities on certain process equipment. WACKER has been hard at work in recent months to continuously improve its safety program.

Indeed, many of the concerns have already been or are in the process of being addressed. WACKER will carefully and diligently study and respond to the concerns raised by TOSHA.

WACKER takes seriously its responsibility for the safety of its team members and community. That responsibility will continue to guide WACKER as it prepares to move forward.

WACKER thanks TOSHA for its professionalism and commitment to employee health and safety. WACKER shares TOSHA's concern for workers and fully cooperated during the investigation to look for further improvements to plant safety.

Mary Beth Hudson, Vice President of Polysilicon, Site Manager - Charleston explained: "Safety is our number one value and priority. We are constantly working to ensure the safety of our site, our team members, our community, and our environment as we move toward restarting production at the site. We are committed to providing safe and secure jobs in our community."