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Archive for Monday, April 5, 2010

Operations at MagnaGro to continue following accident

An R.G. Sawyer Ltd. semi-truck is backed up at the loading dock of MagnaGro International, 600 E. 22nd St., Monday .The company is under investigation by a federal agency because of Thursday afternoon's double-fatality industrial accident.

An R.G. Sawyer Ltd. semi-truck is backed up at the loading dock of MagnaGro International, 600 E. 22nd St., Monday .The company is under investigation by a federal agency because of Thursday afternoon's double-fatality industrial accident.

April 5, 2010

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MagnaGro International, where two men died last week in an industrial accident, will continue to operate, manager and owner Raymond Sawyer said.

Thursday’s accident, which killed Brandon Price, 25, and Roy Hillebert, 51, was a tragic event, said Sawyer, who noted that he lost his best friend, Hillebert, in the incident.

“It is a huge loss,” Sawyer said. “I have only one option and that is to go forward.”

On Monday, semitrailers were coming and going from the fertilizer manufacturer, 600 E. 22nd St. The eight-employee company makes organic-based agricultural products.

About a half-dozen entities are investigating the fatal industrial accident, Sawyer said. Among them is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which has six months to complete its investigation.

So far, OSHA hasn’t determined there to be any violations, and Sawyer doesn’t have any changes in mind for his business.

“I don’t know what they would be at this point, if there would be any,” he said.

Thursday’s accident occurred when an employee was cleaning a piece of equipment and was overcome, Lawrence Police Department spokesman Sgt. Bill Cory said. Beyond those details, the police didn’t release any more information because of the ongoing investigation.

The chemical residue left in the ambulance that had been at MagnaGro contained 80 percent cane molasses, which can convert to a dangerous gas in poorly ventilated areas.

“You know molasses would have been thought of as extremely innocuous, but obviously there are issues with it on occasion. And those discussions will be done with the manufacturer and not with us,” Sawyer said.

MagnaGro has had repeated environmental violations. In the past six years, four chemical spills have been reported. In 2009, Sawyer pleaded guilty to dumping the facility’s waste into the city’s sewer system through a hose inserted into a toilet. The Environmental Protection Agency levied a $240,000 fine against Sawyer and the company.

In 2007, the city of Lawrence shut down the company’s water and sewer service after discovering the illegal dumping. The business has never been reconnected because it fails to meet city codes, Cory said.

Comments

Deja Coffin 4 years ago

Right mourning their loved ones.... not just paying some fine and continuing to neglect regulations set up for safety. If Roy wasn't enforcing safety rules.... which there is no evidence of that so to blame a man that's not here to defend himself is low..... then who is to make sure he is? At the end of the day it's Mr. Sawyer's business and he is the one in charge of making sure this place is run to the highest levels of safety not just hope and pray that it is. His carelessness has cost his company more then just fines this time.

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bbxs 4 years ago

it is an organic based fertilizer company. Lawrence inhabitants seem to be forgetting that little bit of info. not to mention i know Ray well enough to know that he is not only about money and himself. he loves his wife, all three of his daughters as much if not more then most and all his grand kids. his best friend that he use to travel on business and pleasure with is dead. how 'bout taking that into consideration. those spills where accidents made by employees not paying attention to what they where doing. MagnaGro is also watched very carefully now based on his past dumping violation. he would not be able to continue the company if any violations had been made. it would be in violation of his parole and the business would be shut down. each employee is given the safety rules and if they are not enforced by the "plant manager" (by the way that would be Roy) it is not Ray's fault. he has to hope and pray that the plant manager is doing his job. it was a terrible accident in which two wonderful, beautiful men died. instead of pointing the fault to someone who made a really bad choice in his past, that he is paying for, we should be thinking about those people that are morning for their loved ones.

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Christine Anderson 4 years ago

MagnaGro should be hanging it's collective head in shame. What arrogance to continue operating at the risk of more employees being harmed or killed. Greed, greed, greed.

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Boston_Corbett 4 years ago

There are lots of household items which if stored in a thousand gallon container would be deemed hazardous and invoke the interest of the city water-works and the EPA.

This wasn't explosives or fireworks or acid.

It was Molasses. Virtually like the kind you buy at the grocery. Have you ever spilled any at home? Did the EPA respond to that "chemical spill?"

Grain dust can cause terrible explosions. People die every year from suffocation from falls into grain bins. The EPA and Osha monitor these industries too. But it doesn't mean that wheat and corn are not just good ole food.

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Deja Coffin 4 years ago

was_freashpowder2, yes it's a chemical plant and there are risks but that's exactly the reason why this company should have been held to the highest level of safety. These men died because of neglect and an arrogant owner who clearly thought he was above the health and environmental codes set forth. This is nothing more then a tragedy that could have been prevented. I only hope that since Sawyer is such good friends of Roy Hillebert's that he'll have the decency to close the business down for the day in honor of his funeral. The sooner this place is shut down the better for the community.

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nekansan 4 years ago

How is it safe to have employees working with various substances in a facility with no water or sewer service. How can they even clean themselves off if there is a spill? Where are the dumping any inevitable waste that is generating in the building?

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del888 4 years ago

In the past six years, four chemical spills have been reported. In 2009, Sawyer pleaded guilty to dumping the facility’s waste into the city’s sewer system through a hose inserted into a toilet. The Environmental Protection Agency levied a $240,000 fine against Sawyer and the company. ----- Now 2 people killed on the job.

I see no reason to shut this business down.

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headdoctor 4 years ago

Informed (anonymous) says… How can any company continue to operate with no water or sewer service??


Getting water wouldn't be an issue because they can haul it in. Where does it go from there? With this companies track record one would really wonder where they are disposing of there sewage and chemicals? Nothing like suckering a septic service to pump it off and haul it out without knowing what they were hauling. It would seem to me that the City should be investigating how they are operating at manufacturing levels at that location without water and sewer.

All we need is another clown like the one several years back that was hiding carcinogenic waste in diesel fuel.

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bigdave 4 years ago

The only thing this company got out of this was two job opens!! Sad!!

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Alexander Neighbors 4 years ago

OK people here is the situation, this company is a chemical plant they mix dangerous chemicals to create fertilizers and other products.

If this were a fireworks plant and there was an explosion that killed 2 employees I am pretty sure the employees knew the dangers of working with Explosives.

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Norma Jeane Baker 4 years ago

How can any company continue to operate with no water or sewer service??

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