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National News Release: 08-1018-NAT
July 25, 2008
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999


Federal OSHA issues third largest fine in history following sugar refinery explosion

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today issued citations proposing penalties totaling $8,777,500 against the Imperial Sugar Co. and its two affiliates alleging violations at their plants in Port Wentworth, Ga., and Gramercy, La. OSHA initiated the inspections following an explosion and fire on Feb. 7, 2008, at the Port Wentworth refinery that claimed the lives of 13 employees and hospitalized 40 others. Three employees still remain hospitalized. The proposed penalties against Imperial Sugar represent the third largest fine in the history of OSHA.

OSHA's inspections of both facilities found that there were large accumulations of combustible sugar dust in workrooms, on electrical motors and on other equipment. The investigation also determined that officials at the company were well aware of these conditions, but they took no action reasonably directed at reducing the obvious hazards.

"I am outraged that this company would show a complete disregard for its employees' safety by knowingly placing them in an extremely dangerous work environment," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Edwin G. Foulke Jr. He added, "What is even worse is that a month after the devastating catastrophe in Port Wentworth that claimed the lives of 13 people, thi