The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited International Paper Company's Vicksburg Mill in Vicksburg, Miss., for workplace safety violations following an investigation into the May explosion of a recovery boiler during a startup where 23 employees were injured, one fatally.

"The fines reflect the company's failure to establish procedures for a restart of the recovery boiler without the power boiler being on-line," said Clyde Payne, OSHA's area director in Jackson, Miss. "Employees were exposed to a fire and explosion because the employer failed to develop written boiler setup and operating procedures."

International Paper received one alleged willful and one serious violation. The willful violation is for failing to start the recovery boiler without adequate steam and not developing safe procedures to start up the recovery boiler when the primary power boiler is off-line. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

The serious violation is for failing to have written procedures to determine that an adequate amount of odorant was being added to the natural gas supply line coming into the power plant. A serious violation is one that could cause death or serious physical harm to employees and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

For these citations, OSHA is proposing $77,000 in penalties against the company.

International Paper, headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., is a paper and packaging manufacturer operating throughout the world. About 300 employees work at the Vicksburg site.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the Jackson area director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.