Tyson pays fine for OSHA violation

WASHINGTON – Tyson Foods Inc. plead guilty on Tuesday at U.S. District Court in Arkansas and agree to pay a fine following a employee’s death at a plant in Texarkana, Ark., said the U.S. Justice Department.

The Justice Department alleged that Tyson Foods did not take sufficient steps to implement controls or protective equipment to reduce exposure within prescribed limits or provide effective training to employees on hydrogen sulfide gas at the Texarkana facility despite an identical exposure, resulting in hydrogen sulfide poisoning of Tyson’s River Valley Animal Foods (RVAF) Texarkana employee in 2003.

The department said that as a result, on Oct. 10, 2003, RVAF maintenance employee Jason Kelley was overcome with hydrogen sulfide gas while repairing a leak from a hydrolyzer and later died. Another employee and two emergency responders were hospitalized due to exposure during the rescue attempt. Two employees also were treated at the scene.

“This was a tragic accident and we remain saddened by the loss of Jason Kelley,” Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson told ProvisionerOnline.com. “We want people to know we have implemented measures to help prevent an accident like this from happening again.”

He said the company’s efforts include changes in the production process, new ventilation and engineering controls, the use of monitoring and alarm systems, and expanded worker training.

According to the plea agreement, Tyson agreed to pay $500,000, the maximum criminal fine. The company also will serve one year probation.

The investigation was reportedly conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor and prosecuted by the Justice Department's Environmental Crimes Section and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Arkansas under the Environmental Crimes Section's worker endangerment initiative.


Source: U.S. Department of Justice

Agriprocessor plant put up for sale

POSTVILLE, Iowa – The bankruptcy trustee for Agriprocessors Inc. announced Wednesday that the kosher meat processing plant is on track to be put up for bidding in the first quarter of 2009.

Joseph E. Sarachek, the Chapter 11 Operating Trustee, a principal in Triax Capital Advisors, was appointed by the United States Bankruptcy Court to ensure that Agriprocessors emerges from bankruptcy.

Sarachek said in a letter to the company and clients that production lines were being reopened to ensure that new owners would be able to hit the ground running after purchase and that the company was ready for the Passover season.

Media reports said the list of bidders for slaughterhouse remains a secret, but on Wednesday a few more details spilled out about potential buyers of the plant now seeking bankruptcy protection.

Sarachek told the media that all the dozen or so bidders are national or multinational companies that have experience in the food industry. They've all agreed to keep the business open instead of perhaps selling it off in pieces and all agreed to keep it in Postville.

"The bottom line is, they certainly need to show financial wherewithal, that they intend to keep the business here in Postville," Sarachek said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press.


Source: Triax Capital Advisors, Associated Press