Prosecution charges 11 more individuals over STX O&S blast

STX O&S' shipyard. Credit: STX O&S


Arrest warrants have been made for 11 more employees from STX Offshore & Shipbuilding (STX O&S) in connection with the fatal blast that claimed four lives from the South Korean shipbuilder on 20 August 2017.


According to the prosecutor’s office, a supervising manager at the shipyard, identified as Cho, 54, safety supervisor Roh, 47, and nine others, have been charged as of 28 December 2017. Of the 11 individuals, nine are staff of STX O&S, while the other two work for the shipbuilder’s subcontractors.


Meanwhile, the CEO of one of STX O&S’ subcontractors, identified as Cho, 58, a 43-year-old team leader in the shipyard, identified only as Lee, a production support team leader identified as Yoon, 47, continue to be remanded.


In all, 11 STX O&S staff members and three employees of the shipbuilder’s subcontractors have been implicated in the incident that killed four men who were painting the residual oil tank of 74,000 dwt product tanker Persepolis, which was originally due to be delivered to Greek owner Andriaki Shipping in October 2017. Delivery has been delayed to this month.


The prosecution said there was insufficient ventilation in the residual oil tank, which was an enclosed space. The work site also had insufficient explosion-proof facilities, and the subcontractors failed to perform safety inspections and education.


Pathologists’ checks showed that contact between flammable gas and lamps made from glass that were not explosion-proof caused the fatal blast at South Korea's STX O&S on 20 August 2017.


The Korea Coast Guard’s probe found that the cash-strapped STX O&S had cut costs by using lamps made from ordinary glass. These lamps were placed inside vessels that were under construction.


The pathologists’ investigations also showed that the tank where the blast happened was an enclosed space, making it highly vulnerable to explosions.

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