A recent chemical leak at the Ultium Cells facility leads to a pause in operations and a thorough federal investigation.
Cathode mixing slurry leak leads to operational pause at Ultium Cells’ battery plant.
No employee exposure or injuries reported during the incident.
OSHA investigation underway to determine the cause of the leak and assess safety measures.
The battery plant operated by Ultium Cells LLC in Warren, Ohio, is currently undergoing a temporary pause in its operations following a chemical leak incident that is now being investigated by federal regulatory bodies. The incident specifically involves a leakage of cathode mixing slurry and took place over the weekend, prompting immediate containment actions. It has been confirmed by spokesperson Katie Burdette from Ultium Cells that no employees were harmed or exposed during the incident.
Ultium Cells, a collaborative venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solution of South Korea, is focused on producing battery cells for electric vehicles manufactured by General Motors. The company has initiated an internal investigation to determine the root cause of the chemical leak. Operations in the area responsible for cathode mixing will remain on hold until a comprehensive cleanup is completed and the area has been thoroughly assessed for safety.
To facilitate the cleanup process, Ultium Cells has engaged the services of a third-party organization. However, there has been no provided estimate regarding the anticipated duration of the cleanup procedure. As of now, the impact of the chemical leak on the production of battery cells remains uncertain.
The incident has been promptly reported to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a division of the U.S. Labor Department. OSHA has taken the lead in conducting an investigation into the incident. The agency’s spokesperson, Scott Allen, has mentioned that they are in the process of gathering information related to the incident and Ultium Cells’ response to it. The investigation’s findings will be used to determine whether any violations of workplace safety standards occurred and whether any citations are warranted.
The chemical leak involved a substance known as N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP), which is commonly used in the manufacturing of cathodes. Prolonged exposure to NMP can result in irritation to the skin, eyes, nose, and throat, and can also impact the central nervous system and brain.
The Warren plant operated by Ultium Cells has previously been in the spotlight. In December, the United Auto Workers (UAW) secured victory in an election held at the plant, establishing it as the first unionized battery cell manufacturing facility in the United States. The UAW has expressed concerns regarding safety and health conditions at the facility.