Morton Thiokol has given formal notice it will fight state allegations that safety procedures were violated when a first-stage MX missile motor burst into flames and killed five workers last December.
The firm filed papers with the state Thursday saying it will appeal a Utah Occupational Safety and Health report that alleges Thiokol violated state standards. Thiokol was ordered to pay $31,700 in fines."They are contesting the entire group of citations," said Don Anderson, compliance supervisor of UOSH.
Separate investigations by the Air Force and Morton Thiokol concluded that the missile motor's solid propellant probably was ignited by a spark of static electricity or friction that generated heat as metal castings were removed.
Both reports noted that the workers were in the building at the time, apparently in violation safety rules.
The fire was ignited as workers were removing a metal casting from the motor. Fuel is poured into the rocket casing while in a liquid state, and the castings are used to give the propellant a hollow core.
Four workers died at the scene after the rocket motor's 100,000 pounds of fuel ignited and burned violently Dec. 29. A fifth worker died later of his injuries.
Morton Thiokol officials aren't making any new comments on the issue, but in the past they have said the company didn't violate any state standards regarding procedures inside buildings where MX missile motors are assembled.
Both the state agency and Thiokol will argue their cases before the Utah Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The appeal date hasn't been set yet, but Review Commissioner Merrill Weech and three hearing officers will listen as Thiokol and UOSH bring out any evidence.
Thiokol and the agency will probably present evidence strictly related to the state's report, released in March, citing and fining the company for six alleged violations.
Three were "willful, serious" violations, two were "serious" and one was unrelated to the fire, the report states.