Gov. Richard Bryan said Thursday he has ordered weekly state inspections when production resumes at the only U.S. plant making a fuel component crucial for military rockets and the space shuttle.
Bryan said he will not try to block the resumption next week of ammonium perchlorate production at the Kerr-McGee Corp. plant here."We are under the impression the fire department believes all their concerns were met," Bryan said.
The plant came under scrutiny after the only other U.S. plant manufacturing the rocket fuel oxidizer was destroyed in a series of explosions May 4 that killed two people and caused an estimated $73 million damage.
Bryan ordered the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health to begin inspecting the Kerr-McGee plant in unannounced weekly visits. He also said he wants to work with federal officials to minimize the plant's storage of ammonium per-chlorate.
Kerr-McGee officials said the company will resume production of ammonium perchlorate Monday morning. The plant had been shut down since May 12 after state officials threatened to sue the company for creating a public hazard.
Clark County Fire Chief Roy Parrish said Thursday he was withholding approval on resumption of production until the district attorney's office reviews a letter sent by Kerr-McGee that company officials said answers the fire department's concerns.
Anita Bridges, a Kerr-McGee spokeswoman, said the company hired independent safety experts to inspect the plant and has "done everything humanly possible to try to alleviate the fears and concerns of our operation."
The Kerr-McGee plant can make 36 million pounds a year of ammonium perchlorate, the oxidizer used on space shuttle boosters and military and civilian rockets.