Kingston Urges Swift Action
In a conference call with Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga) and Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, Congressman Jack Kingston (GA-1) secured a commitment from the Department of Labor to send their top investigator to the site of the Imperial Sugar refinery explosion.
"Secretary Chao, Johnny, and I agree that we need to get to the root of what happened at the refinery," Congressman Kingston said. "This refinery is at the heart of our community and as we continue recovery and look to rebuild, we need to make sure this tragedy won't happen again."
During the call, Secretary Chao indicated she plans to send the head of the Occupation and Health Safety Administration, Ed Foulke, to the site on Monday. Mr. Foulke will be charged with determining whether current safety regulations are sufficient to protect workers. At Kingston's urging, Mr. Foulke will discuss the explosion and safeguards against future disasters with local media outlets.
"It's important to get this right. Workers must be protected. And safety must come first," said Congressman Kingston. "We must do anything that can be done to prevent another disaster. At the same time, rushing to the wrong fix could mean this plant and others like it could be moved to Mexico. We need to get the regulatory agencies, workers, and the chemists all on the same page."
"Johnny worked very closely with Senator Kennedy on the West Virginia and Utah mine disasters. Together, they came up with a balanced approach to prevent that kind of thing from happening again," Congressman Kingston said. "I know that Johnny has already had conversations with Senator Kennedy about our refinery and a well thought out solution like theirs would be very helpful in our situation"
According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearm, the explosion which shook Port Wentworth on February 7 was caused by combustible dust which ignited in the basement connecting two of the plant's three silos. While OSHA maintains regulations on dust, some, including the Chemical Safety Board, have called on tougher restrictions.