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 user 2008-10-23 at 10:32:28 am Views: 235
  • #20467

    Copy toner caused Kanagawa Pref. recycling plant blasts
    Two explosions that occurred earlier this year at recycling plants in Kanagawa Prefecture were found to have been caused by photocopier toner particles that chemically reacted with oxygen in the air, according to police.

    In the technological competition to achieve clearer printing, manufacturers are developing finer toner particles, increasing the risk of dust-induced explosions.According to the Kanagawa prefectural police, on Jan. 7, a recycling plant of waste-disposal company T’s Future Co. in Hadano, Kanagawa Prefecture, burst into flames. The fire destroyed about 1,100 square meters of the plant, injuring three male employees.

    On Aug. 28, a toner cartridge pulverizer exploded at a recycling factory in Kanazawa Ward, Yokohama, severely burning a man who was operating the machine.According to investigators, leftover toner contained inside a cartridge is believed to have dispersed in the air as a photocopier machine and other devices were being compressed in a crushing machine. A dust explosion then apparently occurred when scattered toner particles reacted with oxygen and caught fire.

    According to a major photocopier manufacturer, toner particles made of plastic and other materials have been minimized to as small as five micrometers (five thousandths of a millimeter) in the past few years.As if tracking the industry improvements in photocopy cartridge toner quality, dust explosions occurred at a recycling plant in Owariasahi, Aichi Prefecture, in 1999, and at a toner manufacturing plant in Hirakata, Osaka Prefecture, in 2003. In both cases, the explosions were determined to have been caused by toner, bringing the risk to light.

    Some recycling plants are equipped with a toner dust collector and an explosion control device that sprays a fire extinguishing chemical, but companies and plants are not required by law to employ the measures.The plant in Hadano, Kanagawa Prefecture, was equipped with a dust collector, but did not have explosion control equipment in place.

    During questioning by the prefectural police, an official of the factory reportedly said, “It would take time and cost money to improve the safety equipment at the facility, and therefore, we couldn’t afford to take such measures.”Heiji Enomoto, vice chairman of the Dust Explosion Committee of the Association of Powder Process Industry and Engineering, Japan, said: “[Industrial] safety measures for toner have been lagging behind [the technology]. We need to take action, including legal regulation, as soon as possible.”