by Rich McKeu
ATLANTA (Reuters) – A production company and its affiliated companies in North Georgia will face a $1 million fine and dozens of warnings from the US government for the January nitrogen crash that killed six workers and injured dozens .
The US Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have announced 59 warnings and fines against Foundation Food Group, which manages the Gainesville plant, as well as two other affiliated companies: Messer LLC, a nitrogen gas Company, and FS Group, a manufacturer of food processing equipment.
“Make no mistake, this was a completely preventable tragedy,” Labor Secretary Marty Walsh told reporters at an Atlanta news conference.
Osha’s investigation found that companies did not implement the necessary safety protocols to prevent leakage, employees were not taught about the dangers of nitrogen, and they lacked the training and equipment to save lives.
Officials from the Foundation Food Group, which also runs three other factories in North Georgia, did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment on Saturday.
The company posted on its website: “As our community recovers, we extend our sympathies and prayers to the families and friends of those who have passed away.”
Neither Messrs nor FS Group Inc. responded to requests for comment. A spokesman for Messer told the Washington Post that it intends to challenge the warnings and fines.
“Our employees were not on site and were not involved in any way in this tragic incident,” the company told the newspaper on Friday.