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After six worker deaths at Georgia chicken plant, US issues $1 million in fines

29 July 2021, at 1:00am

A North Georgia, USA chicken plant and its associated companies face $1 million in fines and scores of citations from the US Labor Department over the deaths of six workers and injuries of a dozen in a nitrogen accident in January.

The Labor Department and its Occupational Safety and Health Administration agency announced 59 citations and the fines against Foundation Food Group, which runs the Gainesville plant, along with two other associated companies: Messer LLC - a nitrogen gas company, and FS Group Inc, a food processing equipment maker, according to a report from Reuters.

"Make no mistake, this was an entirely preventable tragedy," Labor Secretary Marty Walsh told reporters in an Atlanta news conference on Friday.

OSHA's investigation found the companies failed to implement needed safety protocols to prevent the leak, the workers were not taught about the dangers of nitrogen, and they lacked the training and equipment to save lives.

Officials with Foundation Food Group, which also runs three other plants in north Georgia, did not immediately respond to inquiries from Reuters seeking comment on Saturday.

The company posted on its website, "As our community continues to heal, we extend our continued sympathies and prayers to the families and friends of those lost."

Messer said it was reviewing the citations.

The accident occurred on Jan. 28 when a freezer using nitrogen as a coolant failed, Labor Department officials said at the news conference.

Read more about this story from Reuters.