Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Isakson, Chambliss Urge Federal Government to Launch Investigation of Explosion at Imperial Sugar Facility

U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., today sent a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Labor and the interim executive of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, urging them to begin a comprehensive investigation of the Feb. 7 explosion at the Imperial Sugar refinery in Savannah, Ga.

“My prayers are with those recovering from injuries and the families of those who lost their lives in this tragedy. I am very thankful for the emergency personnel and the firefighters whose heroic efforts prevented further loss,” Isakson said. “It is imperative that the federal government begins work quickly to determine why this accident happened so we can avoid another tragedy.”

“We continue to pray for those who have lost loved ones from this terrible tragedy and those who must now begin the process of healing and recovery,” said Senator Chambliss. “Senator Isakson and I stand ready to assist in any way we can from a federal level, and I applaud our emergency personnel in Georgia and their rapid response to this devastating situation. We need to ensure that we know how this happened and how future situations can be prevented.”

The letter was also signed by Senators Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and Patty Murray, D-Wash. Isakson and Murray are the Ranking Member and Chairwoman of the Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety, which has jurisdiction over the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration.

In addition to sending the letter, Isakson and Chambliss spoke to Imperial Sugar CEO John Shepter earlier today. Isakson also spoke to Edwin Foulke, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.

The text of the letter to Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and William Wright of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board is below:

Dear Secretary Chao and Member Wright:

We are writing with regard to the recent tragedy at the Imperial Sugar facility in Port Wentworth, Georgia. We grieve for the loss of life at the facility and the resultant devastating impact on the family and friends of the victims.

We are aware the Occupational Safety & Health Administration and U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board have already deployed investigators to the site, and we appreciate this prompt response. It is of the utmost importance that we understand the causes of the disaster so future catastrophes can be avoided.

Accordingly, we urge both of you to launch, with appropriate urgency, a complete and thorough investigation of the incident. We further ask that you keep us apprised as to the progress of this investigation and submit a written report to each of us.

Of course, please notify us if we can be of assistance in any way.

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