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Northvolt battery factory accidents kill 2 people, injure 1 in Sweden

Two workers have died in separate accidents at Northvolt’s battery gigafactory in Sweden in recent weeks, with a technician succumbing to burns after an explosion on a production line and a construction worker killed by a falling fork stand. pv magazine has learned that the equipment that caught fire was not a part of the battery manufacturing process.

Two workers have died in separate accidents within the space of two weeks at Northvolt’s battery gigafactory in Skelleftea, northern Sweden.

On Nov. 4, a 25-year-old man who worked as a technician and did maintenance work on a production line was injured in an explosion. He died late last week due to severe burns.

“Formal investigations are underway to determine precisely what led to the accident in November, but our current understanding is that we had a dust explosion in a machine that is not directly a part of the battery manufacturing process,” Matti Kataja, Northvolt director of communication and public affairs Nordics, told pv magazine. “Thorough risk assessments have been made and mitigating actions have been taken.”

In a separate incident, a man in his 60s, employed by construction contractor NCC, died after a fork stand fell on him and a 20-year-old man. The younger individual suffered serious injuries. NCC was building a concrete foundation for Northvolt’s battery factory expansion when the accident occurred.

“The accident last Thursday occurred outside during construction work. The precise circumstances and events which led up to the accident are under investigation. Northvolt is in dialogue with all relevant stakeholders,” said Kataja. “One person is being treated at hospital, but not in critical condition.”

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The factory in Skelleftea, also known as Northvolt Ett, is the manufacturer’s first gigafactory. It aims to ramp up the facility to 60 GWh of annual manufacturing capacity – enough to produce batteries for 1 million electric vehicles per year.

In December 2021, Northvolt became the first manufacturer to produce lithium-ion battery cells that are fully designed, developed and assembled by a homegrown European battery company. The first cells rolled off its manufacturing lines at Northvolt Ett, which initially aimed for 16 GWh of battery capacity per year.

Later on, Northvolt has revealed plans for the expansion of the Skelleftea plant, as well as for three more factories in Germany, Canada, and Sweden.

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Source: pv magazine