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In this July 22, 2010 file photo, the sign at an entrance for the Horsehead Inc. zinc plant is seen in Monaca, Pa. Shell Oil Co. said in March 2012, it had chosen this site near Pittsburgh for a major new petrochemical refinery that could provide a huge economic boost to the region. Shell Oil Co. is years away from building the petrochemical plant, but the company is already reaching out to the local community and getting a wholehearted welcome. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

PITTSBURGH – A 2010 explosion that killed two workers at a former Horsehead Corp. zinc oxide plant in western Pennsylvania was caused by recurring problems with a sump system that the company failed to address, the U.S. Chem­ical Safety Board reported.

“Human factors played a dominant role” in the explosion at the plant near Monaca, Beaver County, according to the report by William H. Hunter, a British metallurgist hired to study the blast.

In reference to the system meant to drain the volatile chem­ical from a distillation column, Hunter said, “In short, because of a history of column blockage and explosions at the Monaca facility, hazardous conditions had been ‘normalised (sic).’ ”

James Taylor, 53, of Aliquippa, and Corey Keller, 41, of Newell, West Virginia, died of smoke inhalation from the flash fire and explosion July 22, 2010.

The plant has since closed.

The chemical board doesn’t have the power to fine or cite businesses, but investigates accidents so lessons can be passed on to manufacturers, unions and government regulators designed to prevent similar incidents.

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