- Associated Press - Thursday, May 22, 2014

LOVELL, Wyo. (AP) - Western Sugar is seeking an informal meeting with state regulators to review $71,000 in fines it faces for safety violations in connection with a death at the cooperative’s Lovell facility, its director of shareholder relations said Thursday.

Kent Wimmer said the cooperative owned by 1,200 sugar beet growers in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado and Nebraska has requested an informal meeting to review the fines, but would not say whether it was seeking a reduction. The fines were imposed after an employee died in January after falling through a floor opening in the facility’s beet wheel processing pit.

The Powell Tribune on Thursday (https://tinyurl.com/p6tddqz ) quoted John Ysebaert, administrator of standards and compliance for the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, as saying no date has been set for the meeting.

If a fine is imposed, the money would go to the Lovell school district.

Wyoming Department of Workforce Services Director Joan Evans said Western Sugar would have to make a case for any fine reduction.

“It has to be some kind of new evidence that was for some reason overlooked during the initial investigation,” she told the Tribune.

Eleven of the citations are classified as serious because they had the potential to cause a fatal or serious accident or illness. According to those citations, Western Sugar did not have proper signs or railings or adequate guards on some mechanical equipment, among other problems.

The last citation is classified as a repeated serious violation. It is based on inspectors’ findings that a buildup of debris and foam made it difficult to see the unguarded opening of the processing pit, that there was sharp metal on the floor of the room and that there were signs of numerous spills in a chemical storage building that hadn’t been adequately cleaned up. Western Sugar had previously been cited for similar violations at its Torrington location.


Information from: Powell (Wyo.) Tribune, https://www.powelltribune.com

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