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State agency leading Lighting Resources explosion, employee killed identified

Becky Campbell • Updated Mar 19, 2018 at 5:28 PM

The Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Act division of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development is leading the investigation into an industrial explosion last week that killed one employee and injured another, a department spokesman confirmed Monday.

“There is currently an open and active TOSHA investigation into the incident that took place at Lighting Resources,” Chris Cannon, director of communications for Labor and Workforce Development, said. “TOSHA does not release any information during the investigative process. Once an investigation is closed, it is then open for review by any citizen of the state of Tennessee.”

An obituary listed in the Johnson City Press on Monday identified the man killed in the explosion as Paul E. Cash, 46, of Johnson City. The information released from the family to a funeral home stated Cash worked as a machine specialist for Lighting Resources of Johnson City.

The company, which has its corporate offices in Simi, California, operates 14 plants across the nation which recycles “bulbs, ballasts, batteries, mercury waste, automotive and electronic waste,” according to the company website.

The Johnson City location, which opened in August 2015, was listed as an auto airbag and seatbelt pre-tensioner processing facility and a universal waste processing facility. The business, located at 300 Boggs Lane, a private drive that connects to Buffalo Road and sits across from a neighborhood on Arbor Drive, also processes “waste electronics (e-waste/e-scrap) as well as gathering light bulbs, batteries, and other universal waste materials that are processed in the company's Greenwood, Indiana, and other facilities,” the website stated.

The company only has one location — Greenwood, Indiana — designated for mercury product recycling but the website did not specify if the Johnson City plant was utilized as a location where those devices were gathered for transport to Indiana.

Emergency agencies responded to the explosion around 4:30 p.m. March 14, where they found one man seriously injured and another man dead.

According to Johnson City Fire District Chief Mike Oliver, eight people were inside the business when the explosion happened at the back of the building. That area was not visible from Buffalo Road, which runs in front of the business, but Oliver said there was a good bit of damage to the facility.

The fire department’s Urban Search and Rescue technical team responded to the scene with a tractor trailer that holds shoring equipment as well as a load of 4-by-4 posts. The equipment was necessary to make the area where the victim was located safe for rescuers to enter.

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