An explosion at New Mexicann Natural Medicine on Thursday left two workers in critical condition, the Albuquerque Journal reports. It is the second explosion that caused injuries at the plant in the last five years.
The Department of Health told the Journal that the explosion occurred in the immediate vicinity of the company’s chemical extraction equipment, but the exact cause was still under investigation. DOH spokesman David Morgan said the agency immediately issued a notice of suspension to New Mexicann, revoking their manufacturing approvals. The notice, issued to New Mexicann Executive Director Carlos Gonzales, specifically references “compressed gas” extractions.
According to the report, the accident is being investigated by New Mexico and Santa Fe fire officials, the DOH, and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Officials said two male employees suffered from burns on their heads and torsos and were transported by air ambulance to the hospital.
Gonzales did not comment on the accident.
A previous explosion at the plant in 2015 severely burned two employees involved in the extraction process. Following that incident, OSHA cited the company for 12 “serious” health and safety violations and fined it $13,500. The state Occupational Safety and Health Bureau (OSHB) cited the company for seven serious violations and levied a $7,250 fine for that accident, according to NM Political Report.
The OSHB violations related to the 2015 explosion state that New Mexicann failed to provide a work environment “free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees” and workers “were exposed to being caught in an explosive atmosphere.” The violation also said the equipment was not designed for use with the “cannabinoid extraction process,” according to the Political Report.
The company has five locations throughout the state, including another in Santa Fe, Española, Las Vegas, and Taos.