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Taiwan authorities fined a golf ball manufacturer $75,000 on Monday and warned of criminal charges for storing 30 times the legal limit of hazardous material and other violations after a major factory fire killed nine people and left one other missing.
The mayor of Pingtung county said at a news conference that Launch Technologies Co. had 3,000 tons of organic peroxides on site, far more than the 100 tons of hazardous material that is permitted, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported.
Those responsible would be held accountable for public endangerment and negligent manslaughter, Mayor Chou Chun-mi said.
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A firefighter tries to extinguish a fire at a factory of golf ball manufacturer Launch Technologies Co. in the southern county of Pingtung in Taiwan on Sep. 22, 2023. (Pingtung County Government via AP)
Company officials could not be reached for comment.
It’s unclear what caused the fire on Friday, but two explosions in the already burning building trapped firefighters and workers under rubble. Four firefighters were among the nine who died. More than 100 other people were injured.
Organic peroxides, which are highly flammable, are used in a variety of rubber products including golf ball cores. Launch Technologies is one of the world’s major golf ball makers, producing 20% of the global supply last year.
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Taiwanese law requires organic peroxides to be stored in a separate warehouse building, but Launch Technologies kept the material on the first floor of the factory building, Chou said.
Larger fines were assessed for failing to designate a point person to help fight the fire and failing to give a complete inventory of the organic peroxides on site when firefighters arrived, she said.