Factory explosion, fire idle supplier Meridian in Canada
For the second time in six months, an explosion and fire have idled production at a North American magnesium parts plant owned by supplier Meridian.
Emergency crews responded Monday night at one of three Meridian Lightweight Technologies factories in Strathroy, Ontario, media reports said. The magnesium diecast manufacturing plant remained closed Tuesday, and it wasn’t known when production would resume, Blackburn News reported.
“As explosions go, I suppose it was a minor explosion, but certainly enough to do some structural damage to Plant A -- the diecast plant,” Greg McClinchey, the CAO of the municipality of Strathroy-Caradoc, told Blackburn.
Two people were struck by falling debris and suffered minor injuries, according to Global News.
“The plant was in operation; there were people working at the time; I think it was a minimal crew,” McClinchey told Global News.
It’s not immediately known which automakers the Canada plant supplies. Calls placed to Meridian after hours weren’t immediately returned.
Michigan plant fire
Another fire at Meridian's magnesium products plant in Eaton Rapids, Mich., on May 2 injured two workers and disrupted operations at five automakers, including production of Ford F-series pickups. The disruption of instrument panel components dented F-series availability for part of the summer.
The fire also affected General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International Inc. and BMW of North America. At the time, those automakers declined to say how long output of some vehicles, including the Chrysler Pacifica, Chevrolet Express, and BMW X5 and X6 were slowed.
The specialized parts that Meridian supplies make for a situation where having a backup supplier "just isn't an option," Abhay Vadhavkar, director of manufacturing, engineering and technology at the Center for Automotive Research, told Automotive News in May after the Michigan plant fire.
"They're the only supplier in North America that can supply the parts at that volume," he said.
"Unlike other stamped parts, [the F-series bolsters] are highly engineered and something no other supplier could pick up and make in a week."
The Michigan also plant had a history of safety violations, reports said.
Meridian is based in Plymouth, Mich., near Detroit. Besides Canada, it has manufacturing sites in Michigan, China, Mexico and the U.K., its website said.
Meridian was acquired by China's Wanfeng Auto Holding Group in December 2013.