07.25.08

Enzi Calls for Accountability in Imperial Sugar Refineray Explosion

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Ranking Member of theSenate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP Committee), todaymade the following statement as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA) announced it has issued citations against Imperial Sugar Co. for violations thatled to a deadly explosion last February in Pentworth, Georgia: “OSHA has issued severe charges of disregard for worker safety at the ImperialSugar refinery. I plan to review the findings of this investigation very closely. Thoseresponsible for this tragedy must be held accountable,” Enzi said. “Our hearts remain with the families and friends of the workers who lost theirlives in this explosion, and with the surviving workers who are still dealing with theirinjuries. Safety must be our top priority to prevent an accident like this from occurringagain.” OSHA announced today that it would issue over 200 citations and levy $8,777,500in fines against Imperial Sugar Co. for violations at its refineries in Georgia andLouisiana. Thirteen workers died and forty more were injured in an explosion at the ImperialSugar refinery in Pentworth, Georgia on February 7, 2008. Three individuals remainhospitalized. Approximately five weeks after the explosion, and a week after OSHAnotified Imperial Sugar Co. of the need to comply with safety standards in its otherfacilities, OSHA conducted an inspection of Imperial’s Gramercy, Louisiana facility.Despite the Georgia accident and OSHA’s warning, inspectors found that the levels ofdust at the Louisiana facility ranged from an inch to four feet deep. The situation therewas so dangerous that OSHA issued an “imminent danger” notice and then effectivelyshut down the refinery. Enzi sent a letter to the Secretary of Labor on February 13 requesting that theDepartment complete a thorough investigation of the accident. Senator Ted Kennedy (DMA),Chairman of the HELP Committee, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Senator SaxbyChambliss (R-GA), and Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) also signed the letter.The HELP Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety is holding ahearing on the accident on Tuesday, July 29. ####

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