Read more about the MagnaGro accident
Fatal accident at MagnaGro International
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.