Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Gadsden, Alabama Water Authority is suing 32 Dalton carpet makers and chemical suppliers, saying the companies are contaminating their water supply with toxic chemicals (perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate)

Alabama water utility suing 32 Dalton carpet & chemical makers
By Katherine Marchand Monday, October 3rd 2016
Gadsden Water alleges the carpet companies discharged toxic chemicals (perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate) upstream of their water intake site. (Image: MGN)

GADSDEN, Ala. — NewsChannel 9 has learned that the Gadsden, Alabama Water Authority is suing 32 Dalton carpet makers and chemical suppliers, saying the companies are contaminating their water supply.

Read the lawsuit below.

Gadsden Water alleges the carpet companies discharged toxic chemicals (perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate) upstream of their water intake site.

The utility claims the chemicals cannot be removed by their water treatment processes and their customers are now turning to alternate drinking sources, resulting in lost sales.

NewsChannel 9 reached out to all 32 companies named in the lawsuit. Not all of them have responded back, but those who have said they don’t comment on active litigation.

A few told us that they think they’ll be dismissed from the case, because their companies don’t even handle those chemicals or discharge them into the water.

For example, Home Carpet Industries said they were disappointed the Gadsden Water Authority and their attorneys “didn’t do their homework and find out who the responsible parties are. Now we’re hiring attorneys and it’s frustrating.”

Mohawk Industries responded, “While Mohawk Industries policy is not to comment on pending litigation, the company will vigorously defend itself against this and any related actions. Mohawk’s position as an industry leader in sustainable products and processes is undisputed and is a cornerstone of the company’s values.”

Susan Farris, spokesperson for Shaw Industries, said “Shaw employs safe and environmentally sound methods of protecting our carpet products. We are reviewing the complaint in order to better understand the claims.”NewsChannel 9 is working to get more details on this story. Depend on us for updates as we get them.


Health Department responds to Gadsden Water Works and Sewer Board’s recent perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) levels


CONTACT: John Guarisco, Ph.D. (334) 206-5971 (ADPH)
The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) continue to coordinate with the Gadsden Water Works and Sewer Board to monitor for two PFCs, perfluorooctane sulfate (PFOS) and perfluorooactanoic acid (PFOA), in the community’s local water system. This monitoring has been taking place since May 2016 as a result of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) health advisory. 

As part of the monitoring put in place in May, the ADPH has been notified that the two most recent water testing results from Gadsden showed levels of 84 and 82 parts per trillion. Concentrations confirmed to be consistently above 70 parts per trillion are subject to the EPA recommendations listed in the final health advisory. Over the last 18 weeks, including these two samples, the average of the Gadsden water samples for the levels of PFOA and PFOS is 70 parts per trillion. Because these two recent samples represent an elevation in the levels, monitoring of the water system will continue.

State Toxicologist, Dr. John Guarisco, of the Alabama Department of Public Health states, “The health department, in coordination with ADEM, is monitoring the situation and providing information regarding the EPA health advisory and recent reported levels.” Dr. Guarisco reminds affected consumers that the EPA advisory suggests that sensitive populations such as pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and formula fed infants served by identified water systems consider using alternate sources of drinking water. Other people served by these systems may also consider these steps.

According to ADEM records, as of September 2016, the following systems are currently purchasing water from Gadsden Water Works and Sewer Board: Highland Water Authority, Northeast Etowah County Water Co-op, Rainbow City Utilities Board, and Whorton Bend Water & Fire Protection Authority.

EPA defines PFCs as a diverse group of compounds resistant to heat, water and oil. For decades, they have been used in hundreds of industrial applications and consumer products such as carpeting, apparel, upholstery, food paper wrappings, fire-fighting foams and metal plating. PFCs have been found at very low levels both in the environment and in the blood samples of the general U.S. population.

As additional monitoring data becomes available, ADEM will provide that information to ADPH for appropriate recommendations, and will continue to make the data available on its publicly accessible eFile system.
Any questions regarding monitoring should be directed to ADEM at (334) 271-7955, and questions regarding health-related matters should be directed to ADPH at (334) 206-5971.


Hydrogen sulfide emiited from a malfunctioning replacement battery of a Porsche Cayenne SUV killed a female driver and her 3-year old daughter on Florida Turnpike

Woman, toddler found on Florida Turnpike died from hydrogen sulfide inhalation, autopsies find 

By Emilee Speck - Web Editor Posted: 4:31 PM, October 04, 2016 Updated: 4:36 PM, October 04, 2016 

A woman and her 3-year-old daughter who were found on the Florida Turnpike in June died after inhaling hydrogen sulfate, according to partial autopsy reports released Tuesday.

Latifa Lincoln, 46, and her daughter were found unconscious inside their stilling-running SUV along the Florida Turnpike.

The autopsies found that both deaths were caused by hydrogen sulfide gas intoxication likely caused by a malfunction in the vehicle’s battery, according to the Orange County medical examiner’s office.

The battery that authorities found inside the vehicle was not the SUV's original battery. Investigators determined the incorrect battery was installed in the car and had stopped working properly.

The Porsche Cayenne SUV and its battery will be examined by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. 


A woman and her three-year-old daughter, found dead in their still-running SUV on Florida's Turnpike in June, died after inhaling hydrogen sulfide, the medical examiner's office has ruled.

The pungent, colorless gas may have come from the car battery in the Porsche Cayenne SUV, though officials will need to do more tests to know for sure, said Carrie Proudfit, a spokeswoman for the Orange-Osceola Medical Examiner's Office.

Latifa Lincoln, 46, and Maksmilla Lincoln, 3, were found dead on June 2, after the SUV bumped into a guardrail on Florida's Turnpike and came to a full stop north of mile marker 224 in Osceola County. They were driving to Miami, according to a voicemail Lincoln left before her death.

Their deaths remained unexplained for months as officials investigated and waited for toxicology results.

A Florida Highway Patrol trooper and two Osceola County deputies walked up to the SUV and saw that the two didn't seem to be breathing, according to their reports. The engine was still running. Lincoln was in the driver's seat, and her daughter was buckled into a child's seat in the back.

The trooper walked to the passenger's side and broke the window to try and get into the car. As soon as he did, the three smelled "a foul, caustic chemical odor," Osceola County Sheriff's Master Deputy Robert Stockman later wrote in a report.

Hydrogen sulfide typically smells like rotten egg in low concentrations, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The gas caused 60 deaths between 2001 and 2010, all of them on-the-job fatalities in fields like mining, oil and gas refining, and manufacturing.

County officials could not find another case of fatal hydrogen sulfide poisoning caused by a car battery, Proudfit said.

"This case is unprecedented," she said. "Despite the large numbers of lead acid batteries in use worldwide, no other fatalities of this type have been reported."

The SUV's battery was not the original part, Proudfit said.

"The battery was not the original battery for the vehicle, nor the correct battery and is believed to have malfunctioned," Proudfit said. "In this particular SUV, the battery is located underneath the driver's seat. Both vehicle and battery will undergo additional examination by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration."

The manner of death has not been determined, Proudfit said. In addition to finding the causes of death, medical examiners classify deaths in one of five possible manner categories: Natural, accident, suicide, homicide or undetermined.

U.S. Court of Appeals vacates OSHA's "Memorandum on Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals and Application of the Retail Exemption" for failure to comply with the procedural requirements established by the OSH Act

U.S. Court of Appeals vacates OSHA's "Memorandum on Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals and Application of the Retail Exemption" for failure to comply with the procedural requirements established by the OSH Act. 

"We hold only that, insofar as OSHA does so, it must follow the notice-and-comment procedures for standards set forth in the OSH Act."

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration failed to go through the proper rulemaking process before mandating retailers to implement new stricter storage standards for anhydrous ammonia fertilizer, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has ruled. Agricultural Retailers Association and the Fertilizer Institute v. OSHA, No. 15-1326 (D.C. Cir. Sept. 23, 2016).

The three-judge panel said it was not ruling on the merits of the case, only that OSHA must go through a formal notice and comment rulemaking process if it wants to enforce stricter standards.

Following the 2013 explosion at the West (Texas) Fertilizer Company manufacturing facility, OSHA in July 2015 announced it would regulate retail sellers of farm fertilizer such as anhydrous ammonia under the same standards as manufacturers. The change was scheduled to take place October 1, 2016. The Agricultural Retailers Association and the Fertilizer Institute opposed the decision.

The appeals court vacated OSHA’s 2015 memo, which withdrew a long-standing exemption for “retail facilities” from strict Process Safety Management hazardous materials reporting standards for anhydrous ammonia. Now, the stricter standards are suspended, pending formal rulemaking procedures.

Steve Nelson, president of the Nebraska Farm Bureau, said of the Court’s decision, “Today’s action by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit forcing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to go through a formal rulemaking process before applying stricter standards to retailers of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer is a mark on the win column for Nebraska farmers and fertilizer suppliers.”

He added, “Since OSHA reversed its long-standing policy of exempting anhydrous ammonia retail facilities from extensive federal regulations in July of 2015, Nebraska Farm Bureau and others have challenged the flawed logic OSHA used to justify additional regulations on fertilizer suppliers which ultimately would drive up fertilizer costs for Nebraska farmers and could possibly limit access to anhydrous ammonia fertilizer product.”

Nelson also said, “The fertilizer industry estimates the rule could cost fertilizer suppliers in the neighborhood of $100,000 per facility which would ultimately translate to higher costs for farmers. Today’s court action will force OSHA to go back to the drawing board to justify their actions, and hopefully mark the beginning of the end for this unwarranted regulatory burden.” 


United States Court of Appeals
Submitted May 16, 2016 Decided September 23, 2016
No. 15-1326
Consolidated with 15-1340
On Petitions for Review of a Memorandum
of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration
Gary H. Baise, Stewart D. Fried, Chris S. Leason, Mark C. Dangerfield, and Andrew E. Dudley were on the joint briefs for petitioners. Anson M. Keller Sr. entered an appearance.
Ann S. Rosenthal, Associate Solicitor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration, Charles F. James, Counsel, U.S. Department of Labor, and Lauren S. Goodman, Senior Attorney, U.S. Department of Labor, were on the brief for respondents.
Randy S. Rabinowitz was on the brief for movant-intervenor for respondents.
Before: ROGERS, SRINIVASAN and MILLETT, Circuit Judges.
Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge SRINIVASAN.

SRINIVASAN, Circuit Judge: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, part of the Department of Labor, aims to secure “safe and healthful working conditions” for the Nation’s workers. 29 U.S.C. § 651(b). To that end, OSHA in 1992 issued the so-called Process Safety Management Standard to protect the safety of those who work with or near highly hazardous chemicals. From its inception, the standard has exempted retail facilities from its requirements. The exemption rests on an assumption that the retail setting involves diminished risks of a substantial release of toxic chemicals. Recently, after a catastrophic chemical explosion at a Texas fertilizer company that qualified as an exempt retail facility, OSHA narrowed the scope of the retail-facility exemption so that the safety standard’s requirements would now apply to formerly exempt facilities like the Texas plant.

The question we confront is whether, when OSHA narrowed the scope of the exemption for retail facilities, the agency issued a safety “standard” within the meaning of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). If so, we have jurisdiction to review OSHA’s action, and the OSH Act would have required the agency to adhere to procedural notice-and-comment requirements, which it concededly did not do. If, however, OSHA’s action did not amount to  issuance of a “standard,” we would lack jurisdiction to review it and the OSH Act would have imposed no obligation to follow notice-and-comment procedures.

Under our decisions, when an action by OSHA corrects a particular hazard, as opposed to adjusting procedures for detection or enforcement, it amounts to a “standard.” Applying that understanding, we conclude that the agency’s narrowing of the substantive scope of the exemption for retail facilities qualified as issuance of a “standard.” We therefore have jurisdiction, and OSHA was required to adhere to notice-and-comment procedures. Consequently, we grant the petitions for review and vacate OSHA’s action.


In 1992, OSHA promulgated the Process Safety Management (PSM) Standard in an effort to “provide safe and healthful employment and places of employment for employees in industries which have processes involving highly hazardous chemicals.” Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals; Explosives and Blasting Agents, 57 Fed. Reg. 6356, 6359 (Feb. 24, 1992), codified at 29 C.F.R. § 1910.119 (2016). The PSM Standard “contains requirements for preventing or minimizing the consequences of catastrophic releases of toxic, reactive, flammable, or explosive chemicals.” 29 C.F.R. § 1910.119.

From the outset, OSHA exempted “[r]etail facilities” from the requirements of the PSM Standard. Id. § 1910.119(a)(2)(i). The exemption, OSHA explained in the preamble of the final standard, was rooted in an understanding that “chemicals in retail facilities are in small volume packages, containers and allotments, making a large release [of toxic chemicals] unlikely.” 57 Fed. Reg. at 6369. OSHA  identified “gasoline stations” as prototypical examples of retail facilities. Id. Shortly after promulgating the PSM Standard, OSHA issued a letter defining an exempt retail facility as “an establishment . . . at which more than half of the income is obtained from direct sales to end users.” See Letter from Patricia K. Clark, Dir. of Enf’t Programs, OSHA, to Gary Myers, President, The Fertilizer Inst. (June 19, 1992). The “50 percent test” remained the rule for more than two decades.

In April 2013, a catastrophic chemical explosion at a fertilizer company in West, Texas, resulted in the deaths of 15 persons and injured many others. Although the company stored large quantities of a highly hazardous chemical (anhydrous ammonia) for bulk distribution as fertilizer to farmers, it had been exempt from the PSM Standard under the 50 percent test for retail facilities. That test had enabled establishments to claim the exemption even if they stored large amounts of hazardous chemicals for distribution in wholesale quantities to commercial end users (including farmers), as long as the distributions went directly to the end users.

After the explosion at the West, Texas, fertilizer facility, President Obama issued an executive order that, among other things, directed the Secretary of Labor to “identify any changes that need to be made in the retail . . . exemption[] in the PSM Standard” so as to “meet the goal of preventing major chemical accidents.” Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security, 78 Fed. Reg. 48029, 48032 (Aug. 1, 2013). OSHA responded in 2015 by issuing the Memorandum at issue in this case. OSHA, Memorandum on Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals and Application of the Retail Exemption (29 C.F.R. § 1910.119(a)(2)(i)), July 22, 2015.

The Memorandum “rescind[ed] all prior policy documents, letters of interpretation, and memoranda related to the retail exemption and the 50 percent test.” Id. OSHA explained that the “50 percent test allows employers who sell or distribute large, bulk quantities of highly hazardous chemicals directly to end consumers to claim the exemption, even if the end users are themselves commercial establishments.” Id. That result was “directly contrary to OSHA’s original intent,” i.e., “to exclude retail facilities from PSM coverage because the small container, package, or allotment sizes of the chemicals typically found at these facilities do not present the same safety hazards as establishments that handle large, bulk quantities of materials.” Id. 

Concluding that the retail exemption “should never have been interpreted to cover facilities engaged in distinctly wholesale activities,” OSHA announced that retail facilities would instead be defined by a Department of Commerce manual classifying types of businesses. Id. Under that definition, retail facilities must be “organized to sell merchandise in small quantities to the general public.” Id. Because farm supply establishments like the West, Texas, facility sell chemical fertilizers in bulk to farmers, they fall outside the revised definition of retail facilities. Id. Under the new definition, those facilities thus would become subject to the PSM Standard’s requirements for managing highly hazardous chemicals.


The Agricultural Retailers Association, the Fertilizer Institute, and a number of individual businesses brought petitions for review in this court to challenge OSHA’s narrowed definition of retail facilities. According to petitioners, the OSH Act required the agency to adhere to notice-and-comment procedures in promulgating its new definition. We agree with petitioners.

The OSH Act authorizes the Secretary of Labor, through OSHA, to promulgate “occupational safety [and] health standard[s].” 29 U.S.C. § 655(b). The Act provides for pre-enforcement review in the courts of appeals of any such “standard” issued by OSHA. Id. § 655(f). The Act also authorizes the promulgation of “regulation[s]” (and other rules falling short of “standards”), which are governed by a different means of judicial review: challenges to regulations are brought under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), which calls for initial review in federal district court rather than in a court of appeals. Id. § 657(c)(1); see also Edison Elec. Inst. v. OSHA, 411 F.3d 272, 277 (D.C. Cir. 2005); Workplace Health & Safety Council v. Reich, 56 F.3d 1465, 1467 (D.C. Cir. 1995).

The OSH Act provides for distinct treatment of “standards” in another pertinent respect as well. When promulgating or modifying a “standard,” OSHA must adhere to notice-and-comment procedures set forth in the OSH Act. 29 U.S.C. § 655(b). OSHA concedes that, when it promulgated its Memorandum redefining “retail facility,” it did not satisfy the procedural requirements for standards. The agency instead argues that the Memorandum did not issue or modify a standard. In the agency’s view, the Memorandum only interpreted an existing standard, and it therefore was subject neither to the procedural requirements set out in the OSH Act, id., nor to direct review in this court under that Act, id. § 655(f).

The existence of jurisdiction in this court, as well as the applicability of the OSH Act’s notice-and-comment procedures, both turn on the same question: whether OSHA’s Memorandum amounted to issuance (or modification) of an “occupational safety and health standard.” The OSH Act defines an “occupational safety and health standard” as “a standard which requires conditions, or the adoption or use of one or more practices, means, methods, operations, or processes, reasonably necessary or appropriate to provide safe or healthful employment and places of employment.” Id. § 652(8).

Our decisions construing that definition have established a framework for differentiating between OSHA standards and regulations. A standard within the meaning of that definition is “a remedial measure addressed to a specific and already identified hazard, not a purely administrative effort designed to uncover violations of the Act and discover unknown dangers.” Workplace Health & Safety Council, 56 F.3d at 1468 (quoting La. Chem. Ass’n v. Bingham, 657 F.2d 777, 782 (5th Cir. 1981)). Standards, that is, are designed for “correction rather than mere inquiry into possible hazards.” Id. They focus on “correct[ing] a particular significant risk,” not on “general enforcement.” Id. (quotation and internal quotation marks omitted).

In Workplace Health & Safety Council, we applied that understanding to find that a rule requiring employers to report workplace deaths and hospitalizations was a regulation rather than a standard. 56 F.3d at 1468. The “basic function of the rule [was] administrative,” in that it principally served to enable “collect[ing] information about unknown hazards.” Id. We distinguished “information-gathering” measures of that kind from the “correction of a particular significant risk.” Id. (quotation and internal quotation marks omitted).

When we later applied the same framework in Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. U.S. Department of Labor, 174 F.3d 206 (D.C. Cir. 1999), we reached the opposite outcome with regard to the OSHA rule at issue in that case. We determined that a compliance program subjecting businesses to extra inspections if they did not engage in specified safety measures amounted to a standard rather than a regulation. 

That program aimed at “correcting, rather than merely uncovering,” workplace safety hazards. Id. at 210. It therefore could not “be described as merely an enforcement or detection procedure.” Id. (quotation and internal quotation marks omitted). Whereas the rule held to be a regulation in Workplace Health & Safety Council was “procedural,” the “basic function of the rule” in Chamber of Commerce was “substantive,” in that it “impose[d] upon employers new,” and “more demanding,” “safety standards” than those in existence beforehand. Id. at 210-11.

Under the principles set forth in those decisions, we conclude that OSHA’s new definition of a retail facility, like the compliance program in Chamber of Commerce, amounts to a standard. The “basic function” of OSHA’s new definition is to address a “particular significant risk,” id. at 209: the risk associated with storing large quantities of highly hazardous chemicals for distribution to end users in bulk quantities, as had been the case at the West, Texas, fertilizer company. OSHA’s Memorandum aims not just to gather data about that risk or otherwise serve a general detection or enforcement function, but instead to correct the risk by subjecting facilities such as farm supply companies to the preventative measures in the PSM Standard. OSHA estimates that its revised definition would subject up to 4,800 facilities to “new,” and necessarily “more demanding,” substantive standards for the management of highly hazardous chemicals. Id. at 211.

Of course, the Memorandum itself does not require new preventative measures of its own accord; it does so in conjunction with the PSM Standard. But we do not look at the Memorandum in strict isolation. We consider the Memorandum’s “practical effect,” not “its formal characteristics.” Id. at 209. And the essential effect and object of the Memorandum is to expand the substantive reach of the PSM Standard by narrowing an exemption from that standard. As OSHA describes the measure, it aims to eliminate “policy and regulatory gaps” so as to help “prevent incidents like the West Fertilizer explosion.” OSHA, Questions and Answers—PSM Retail Exemption Policy, July 22, 2015. By redefining retail facilities, the Memorandum, in purpose and effect, subjects a substantial number of businesses previously classified as exempt retail facilities to additional safety standards in order to address a “particular significant risk.” Given those specific circumstances, the measure, under our decisions, qualifies as a standard within the meaning of the OSH Act.

OSHA argues that the Memorandum cannot be a standard because it would constitute an interpretive rule under the APA. But nothing in the OSH Act or APA establishes that the standard/non-standard distinction under the OSH Act must directly track the legislative/interpretive rule distinction under the APA. The OSH Act and the APA prescribe different procedural requirements, and those requirements do not necessarily apply to the same subset of rules. Unlike some other statutes, the OSH Act does not adopt the “interpretive rule” terminology, but instead uses a vocabulary distinct from the APA’s. Compare 29 U.S.C. § 655, with 42 U.S.C. § 1395hh(c) (using the term “interpretive rules” in the Medicare Act). And petitioners’ principal submission is that they are entitled to relief under the OSH Act’s governing standards, a result that, in their view, renders the APA irrelevant. Petitioners’ Reply Br. at 1-3.

We thus need not decide whether the rule at issue here would constitute an interpretive rule for purposes of the APA. Because the Memorandum amounts to a standard within the meaning of the OSH Act, we have jurisdiction to review it and to vacate it for failure to comply with the procedural requirements established by that Act. Of course, nothing in our decision necessarily calls into question the substance of OSHA’s decision to narrow the exemption for retail facilities and correspondingly to expand the scope of the PSM Standard. We hold only that, insofar as OSHA does so, it must follow the notice-and-comment procedures for standards set forth in the OSH Act.

Finally, we consider the motion of the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (the Union) to intervene in support of OSHA. Mot. to Intervene Out of Time Filed on Behalf of [the Union], Nov. 5, 2015. We deny the motion because the Union has failed to establish its standing to intervene. The Union submitted a declaration saying that certain Union members “may” be affected by OSHA’s action insofar as there are members whose employers previously fit within the retail facility exemption under the 50 percent rule but would no longer do so under the Memorandum’s revised definition. Decl. of Michael J. Wright ¶¶ 4-5 (attachment to Br. of Union). But because nothing in the Union’s declaration establishes that the Union does have such members, the Union has failed to demonstrate standing. See Summers v. Earth Island Inst., 555 U.S. 488, 498 (2009). Although we deny the Union’s motion to intervene for that reason, we grant the Union’s alternative request to accord it amicus curiae status, and we thus have given full consideration to the Union’s arguments. See Rio Grande Pipeline Co. v. FERC, 178 F.3d 533, 539 (D.C. Cir. 1999).
* * * * *
For the foregoing reasons, we grant the petitions for review and vacate OSHA’s Memorandum for failure to abide by the OSH Act’s procedural requirements. We also deny the Union’s motion to intervene but grant it amicus status.
So ordered.

Hard Rock Construction, Inc.could have prevented the deaths of two workers who died after a trench collapsed in Boise last May.

OCTOBER 4, 2016
BOISE, IDAHO – Federal safety inspectors say a local excavation company could have prevented the deaths of two men who died after a trench collapsed in Boise last May. A third man suffered serious injuries in the accident.

"I would like to say we found some surprises. We really didn't," said David Kearns, area director for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA cited Hard Rock Construction, Inc. with three serious citations and one willful citation, and assessed penalties of $77,319.

The workers were doing underground utility work on Gary Lane in Boise in a trench about 10-feet deep when the dirt walls collapsed and buried three workers. Two men, Ernesto Saucedo-Zapata, 26, and Bert Smith Jr., 36, died at the scene. The coroner listed their cause of death as mechanical asphyxia due to compression. A third man, Jorge Soto, suffered multiple injuries including a broken wrist, shoulders and ribs, and he can't see out of his left eye. Soto was buried under several feet of dirt for about 10 minutes.

Hard Rock Construction declined to comment.

OSHA inspectors found that Hard Rock failed to provide cave-in protection systems or a ladder to enter or exit the trench, did not have competent person conducting inspections and failed to train its employees on the hazards and dangers of working in trenches.

"The tragic loss of these men's lives and serious injuries suffered by their co-worker were preventable –which makes this incident even more tragic," Kearns said. "Our investigation found Hard Rock Construction made almost no effort to protect its workers, or even to understand the right ways to avoid the common hazards in this line of work. Hiring workers and assuming they know how to protect themselves is a sure path to tragedy."

OSHA does not have the authority to shut down a business, Kearns says that comes from a court order. The penalties are also determined by Congress.

"It's based upon the severity if an incident were to occur, the probability in the incident occurring," Kearns said. "There was some penalty reduction in this case based upon employer being a relatively smaller employer."

Kearns says because the company received a willful citation it means the U.S Attorney's Office can look into the case.

"If a willful violation results in the death of a worker they can look into that for criminal charges," Kearns said.

MORE: OSHA investigating after trench workers killed

Jorge Soto, the lone survivor in the collapse, told KTVB through an interpreter that no amount of money can bring back those lost.

"It's never enough money to be able to recover the lives of the two people that were lost," Soto said.

Soto added that he's still recovering from the collapse and hasn't heard anything from Hard Rock Construction since the incident, but hopes the company can learn from this.

"I just hope they learn from their mistake and prevent any other fatalities or accidents in the future from this and they learn," Soto said.

The company has 15 business days from the receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings.

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that each year dozens of workers die and hundreds are injured when trench walls collapse and bury them in soil and rock that can weigh several thousand pounds. Excavation cave-ins are among the most common causes of fatalities in the construction industry.


The lone survivor says he did not feel safe in the trench.
Dean Johnson, KTVB 6:56 PM. MDT June 22, 2016

(Photo: KTVB)

Jorge Soto spent seven days in a hospital bed recovering from a trench collapse that took the lives of two of his co-workers. Soto suffered a broken wrist, multiple broken ribs, both of his shoulders were broken, and he still cannot see out of his left eye.

We spoke to Jorge Soto through interpreter Jesus Alcelay. Soto says it's a day he'll have pictured in his mind forever.

"He cannot take out of his mind the situation that he was in a hole and that it is very difficult for him. He cannot sleep because all the time because it comes all those memories," Soto said.

Soto says around 3:40 that afternoon he went to a job on the corner of Hill Road and Gary Lane to help some fellow co-workers with a job, when the trench collapsed on him and the two others.

"It was so, so fast there was nothing they could do about it," Soto said.

Soto was buried alive under two feet of dirt for what he says nearly 10 minutes.

"One stone who hit him in the face. It make a little hole and that little hole he could start breathing with that little hole between the face and the stone had a little hole and he could start breathing," Soto said.

According to Soto, immediately after the collapse happened, his friend and this other man, who he described as an American, sprang into action and started digging him out.

"Finally his friend through his mouth and took his nose up from the dirt and then he little by little started digging because he could not get out because all his chest and the arm and the shoulder was broke," Soto said.

He says it took about 25 minutes to get him completely out of the ground. Soto suffered a number of injuries, but says the worst pain is thinking about his two co-workers who died that day.

"His heart and his brain. The only thing he is thinking is about his mens, the people that they get buried and died and that is the worst of his pain," Soto said.

Soto says he has worked for Hard Rock Construction for the last five years doing a lot of odd ball jobs, but had never been in a trench that deep before. According to Soto, there was no safety measures in place.

"He and his friends never felt it secured because the company they didn't put any security means in order for it not to happen," Soto said.

Soto says he doesn't know whose decision it was to not put in a trench box, but added this serves as a lesson all companies should remember.

"He wants all the companies to protect the workers because he doesn't want to lose more lives," Soto said.

It's a message he says he's able to get out because of his friend and this passerby that helped save his life.

"He wants to learn and find out and wants to know who is that third person who help him, that American guy, who helped his friend to dig him out because he doesn't know who was that person," Soto said.

Soto added one of the main reasons he was able to be rescued is because when the trench collapsed he was standing up, while the other two men, who tragically did not make it out, were bent down. Soto says he is getting some money from the insurance to help pay bills, but does not know when he will be able to go back to work.

KTVB contacted Hard Rock Construction due to these recent allegations by Soto that no safety measures were used. The owner was not in at the time, but the man who answered the phone says they are working through it with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and cannot comment at this time.

Copyright 2016 KTVB

IN BED WITH THE GAS INDUSTRY: Wyoming's OSHA never sent a bill, never collected the fines and never released a final report about the investigation of the 2014 explosion at the Williams Opal natural gas processing plant forced the evacuation of the town


A 2014 explosion at the Williams Opal natural gas processing plant forced the evacuation of the town, and caused a spike in the price of natural gas.
Credit Rachel Anderson

No Fines, No Follow-Up After Massive Explosion At Wyoming Natural Gas Plant
By Stephanie Joyce • 7 hours ago 

 In 2014, a massive explosion tore through the Williams natural gas processing plant in Opal. It forced the evacuation of the southwestern Wyoming town and caused a spike in the price of natural gas.

Wyoming’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted an investigation in the aftermath and found a number of safety violations. But the agency never collected the corresponding fines and never released a final report about the investigation.

The lack of follow-up came to light because media requests for the report after a worker died at the same plant in September.

John Cox became the director of the Department of Workforce Services a year after the 2014 explosion. Wyoming Public Radio's Stephanie Joyce spoke with Cox about how this happened.

Stephanie May Joyce: It seems like a pretty big oversight to forget to send that fine. What are you doing to correct the failures of your fining process?

John Cox: First of all, in complete agreement that it is a serious oversight. I don't think I could overstate our surprise when we discovered pursuant to the fatal tragedy that happened this month, our surprise that the process was not completed with Williams in 2014. A serious issue. From my perspective, as the new director of the agency, once I learned of that last week, I immediately called a meeting with John Ysebaert, who is the administrator, together with the supervisors from OSHA. I had a bunch of questions for them and then directed that they do a complete case file review of all open cases in OSHA. To me, the question is—is this an isolated incident or do we have a problem we need to solve in terms of how our process works? That's to be discovered but that's what we will be looking into.

Joyce: Is it typical that after such a major incident there is no follow-up?

Cox: Again, it's hard for me to comment on that because a lot of this is new to me, in terms of what is typical and what is not. If it is typical, it will get corrected. The fact is that what needs to be typical, and I assume it is, because we have really committed professionals in the OSHA operation. My assumption is this is atypical. I'm going to find out if this is typical or if it is an aberration, but what does need to be typical is that there is quick, sequential, disciplined follow-up that ensures that abatement procedures or abatement agreements have been followed, and associated with that, that fines have been levied and collected.

Joyce: Just to make sure I'm understanding, not only that the fines are levied and collected but that there should be actual follow-up, you know, inspections and investigation, following a major incident.

Cox: That’s a good question. Clearly there is the need to verify that the abatement has taken place in any case, whether it’s an inspection where no harmful event has occurred or one where you have an ultimate tragedy, which occurred earlier this month.

Joyce: This did come up in the wake of this month’s death at the Williams plant. Are you concerned about a pattern of safety lapses at this facility?

Cox: At this point, Stephanie, it too early for me to say whether there’s a continued pattern of safety lapses at the plant. That’s something we should be able to establish with the investigation we are conducting now. But preliminarily, it appears to us that there isn’t a relationship or resemblance between what occurred this month and what occurred in 2014.

Joyce: I do understand that OSHA is pretty narrowly focused on ‘was a particular standard violated?’ which I think sometimes obscures the larger question of ‘is there a culture of safety?’ or ‘is there enough attention paid to safety at a particular facility or by a particular company?’ Is that something you are able to address in an investigation, and if so, how do you go about doing that?

Cox: I think the simple answer is yes. And I'll tell you from what I know. First of all, in an investigation like this, not only are the operating procedures and the process of the company under investigation, but also the safety and the condition of their equipment, their operating equipment, and what remedial measures might need to be taken by a company. In addition to that though, as those assessments are made during the investigation, which looks into not only their procedures and policies but whether or not they are following them, that certainly can give us a picture of whether or not the company is serious about what they are putting on paper.

Beyond that, moving downstream from that, so hypothetically, if you have a company being inspected, we identify some gaps in whether or not they're actually walking out the procedures that they've got and living with those procedures, we can we can bring a variety of consultative services to the table to help that company and ensure that they follow their own policies. And there’s consequences when they don't.

Joyce: Thank you very much for taking the time.

Cox: Thank you. 


Opal fire penalties went unpaid due to state clerical error

Heather Richards 307-266-0592, Heather.Richards@trib.com
Updated Sep 29, 2016

A company that operates a major natural gas hub in southwest Wyoming has yet to pay thousands of dollars in fines imposed for safety violations after a 2014 fire because state regulators failed to send the final bill.

Regulators are investigating why the bill was never sent, but they’ve determined the company was not at fault, said John Ysebaert, the Department of Workforce Services’ standards and compliance administrator.

“It is clerical and on our end, on my end,” Ysebaert said Wednesday. “(The company) has not paid any of the fines, but to be fair they have not been given notice of ‘This is what you owe for all those citations.’”

Wyoming regulators do not expect an appeal from Williams Field Services Company, which operates at the Opal plant, because the company already agreed to the final fine amounts in 2014, Ysebaert said.

“I don’t anticipate any issues with them paying the fine,” he added.

The company did not comment on its intention to pay the full amount but is aware of the oversight, said Sara Delgado, spokeswoman for Williams.

“The penalties have not yet been finalized, but we are committed to working with OSHA to reach closure on the issue,” she said in an email.

The case was opened on April 25, 2014, after an explosion ignited a fire that burned for five days and led to a temporary evacuation of the small town of Opal. An ensuing investigation led to 14 penalties totaling $46,000 against the Williams Field Services Company for violations such as failing to provide safety guardrails and improper handling of hazardous chemicals.

Williams representatives met with Wyoming regulators and asked that two of the fines be reduced.

“OSHA and Williams Field Services Company reached an informal agreement regarding the 2014 incident on November 25, 2014,” said Hayley McKee, spokeswoman for the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, in an email. “During the discussion, hazard abatement was discussed, and the final penalty amounts were agreed upon. Wyoming OSHA made a mistake, and it’s taking full responsibility in not following through with its responsibility to send the final paperwork to Williams Field Services Company.”

McKee said Thursday that she could not verify the reduced penalty amount until the case has closed.

The company has been back in the spotlight after the Sept. 14 death of Michael Smuin, 36, who was killed while doing routine maintenance at the plant.

In investigating his death, the state regulators became aware of the open 2014 case. According to a federal evaluation that took place in 2014 and 2015, the Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration was under strain from high turnover when the Opal fire and subsequent investigation took place.

The Opal fire case appears to have fallen through the cracks during a period of disorder at the state regulation division.

Wyoming’s OSHA department went through a period of management changes that disrupted the consistency of its work, according to a report prepared by federal OSHA regulators evaluating the state between October 2014 and September 2015.

The report found a number of issues such as the lack of proper documentation and inconsistencies with the division’s established rules. The report also concluded that issues uncovered in the federal evaluation were likely the result of high turnover within the division during 2014 and 2015.

In 2015, there were eight staffing changes within the compliance division and five new workers were hired. The deputy administrator, as well as the managers for compliance and operations were new to their positions, the report states.

The issue of the unpaid fines is further complicated by the way Wyoming collects safety violation penalties, which the federal report determined as “ineffective.”

Fines are levied by the state regulators, but companies send the money directly to the county where the infraction took place. The county passes that amount along to the school district.

The Lincoln County Treasurer’s Office was not aware that there were fines due after the Opal fire, said Joey Antilla, the deputy treasurer who receives the safety penalties.

Generally, safety penalties show up in the mail unexpected, she said.

Previously, Antilla would receive a phone call from a regulator at the state alerting her to an incoming fine, but that hasn’t taken place in years, she said.

The final steps in closing the Opal fire case are taking place, Ysebaert said. After the penalty amounts are sent to Williams, and regulators have checked that the company has fixed the problems that led to the fines, the company has a period of weeks to either pay the fines or appeal them.

The case will remain open until penalties are paid, Ysebaert said.

“Inspectors are verifying that all the abatement was done and so forth,” Ysebaert said. “But we have thousands of inspections, and that one just did not get closed.”

U.S. Files Complaint, Announces Settlement to Address Alleged Renewable Fuel Standard Violations by NGL Crude Logistics and Western Dubuque Biodiesel

Contact Information:
Julia P. Valentine (News media only) (valentine.julia@epa.gov)
(202) 564-2663, (202) 564-4355

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice today announced the filing of a complaint against NGL Crude Logistics, LLC and Western Dubuque Biodiesel, LLC and a settlement with Western Dubuque to address alleged violations of the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, alleges that NGL entered into a series of transactions with Western Dubuque in 2011 that resulted in the generation of approximately 36 million invalid renewable identification numbers, or RINs. RINs are credits created when a company produces qualifying renewable fuel and can be traded or sold to refineries and importers to use for compliance with renewable fuel production requirements.

Under the settlement, Western Dubuque has agreed to pay $6 million to resolve alleged Renewable Fuel Standard program violations for generating RINs for renewable fuel that was produced using unapproved feedstocks and production processes. A feedstock is the basic material used in the production of renewable fuel. The consent decree does not resolve any claims against NGL.

“These cases uphold the energy independence and greenhouse gas reduction purposes of the law that Congress passed,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “EPA is committed to level the playing field for responsible companies, and to ensuring that companies that illegally obtain an unfair competitive advantage are held to account.”

“Congress passed the Renewable Fuels Standards program to incentivize production of biofuels in order to achieve substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the United States’ dependence on foreign oil and modernize the United States’ renewable energy industry,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The Justice Department is committed to ensuring that Congress’ goals are not undermined by entities that attempt to compromise the integrity of the incentive program.”

“The Department of Justice is committed to maintaining the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard program,” said U.S. Attorney Kevin W. Techau for the Northern District of Iowa. “Congress enacted incentives for the production of biofuels to make the United States stronger and more energy independent. This $ 6 million settlement supports that goal.”

The complaint alleges that in 2011, NGL purchased more than 24 million gallons of biodiesel on the open market, and that approximately 36 million RINs had been assigned to the biodiesel. NGL sold most of the RINs to other entities. NGL then sold the biodiesel to Western Dubuque, but designated it as a “feedstock.” Western Dubuque reprocessed the biodiesel provided by NGL and generated a second set of RINs for the same fuel. Western Dubuque sold the reprocessed biodiesel and the second set of RINs back to NGL. NGL then sold most of these RINs to other entities.

The complaint asks the court to require NGL to retire 36 million RINs to offset the harm caused by the alleged violations and to pay a civil penalty.

EPA estimates that the generation of the second set of RINs alleged in this case resulted in excess greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 151,319 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

EPA learned that Western Dubuque used improper feedstocks during a 2011 inspection of the company’s biodiesel facility, located in Farley, Iowa. EPA then conducted an extensive investigation into transactions between Western Dubuque and NGL, and determined that the feedstocks that NGL supplied to Western Dubuque were biodiesel, which is not a permitted feedstock, and that other companies had already generated RINs for the product. Western Dubuque informed EPA that it has not used biodiesel as a feedstock since 2011.

EPA is responsible for developing and implementing regulations to ensure that transportation fuel sold in the United States contains a minimum volume of renewable fuel. The Renewable Fuel Standard program - created under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 - was developed in collaboration with refiners, renewable fuel producers, and many other stakeholders. It was expanded and strengthened under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which was designed to encourage the blending of renewable fuels into our nation's motor vehicle fuel supply, and reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil, help grow the nation's renewable energy industry, and achieve greenhouse gas reductions.

Western Dubuque owns and operates a 30 million gallon biodiesel plant located in Farley, Iowa. NGL is an energy service company that transports fuel and other products. At the time of the alleged violations, NGL was known as Gavilon, LLC.

The settlement with Western Dubuque is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.

The allegations in the complaint remain assertions until they are proved.

For more information about the settlement and the complaint, visit


Columbia Recycling Corp. a Georgia textile, plastic recycler continues to expose workers to serious OSHA workplace hazards; faces nearly $318K in fines for repeated, serious violations

October 4, 2016
Columbia Recycling Corp. a Georgia textile, plastic recycler continues to expose workers to serious OSHA workplace hazards; faces nearly $318K in fines for repeated, serious violations

Employer name: Columbia Recycling Corp.

Inspection site: 2410 S. Dixie Highway
Dalton, Georgia 30720

Citations issued: The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued citations to Columbia Recycling Corp. for five repeated, three serious and one other-than-serious safety and health violations. Acting on a complaint, the agency initiated the inspection on April 26, 2016.

Investigation findings: OSHA issued the repeated citations for the employer's failure to:

  • Administer an effective hearing conservation program.
  • Ensure nameplates were maintained in a legible condition.
  • Protect petroleum gas storage tanks with crash rails or guards.
  • Store and handle liquefied petroleum properly.
  • Outline clear and specific energy control procedures for shutting down and securing machines and equipment.

The serious citations relate to:
Improper storage of compressed gas cylinders.
Not ensuring an employee successfully completed training to operate a powered industrial truck.
Not allowing sufficient access and working space around electrical equipment.

One other violation was cited for failure to report a work-related amputation within the required 24 hours.

Proposed penalties: $317,814

Quote: "The issuance of repeated citations is a clear indication that Columbia Recycling continues to ignore OSHA's safety standards and lacks concern to protect workers at this facility," said Christi Griffin, OSHA's director of the Atlanta-West Office. "Employers need to be proactive and should not wait for an OSHA inspection to assess and correct workplace safety hazards."

The citations can be viewed at: https://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/ColumbiaRecyclingCorp_1142848_1137767.pdf

Based in Dalton, Columbia Recycling employs approximately 460 workers and extrudes textile and plastic waste to make melt-filtered reprocessed pellets to be used in the automotive industry for injection molding. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions; obtain compliance assistance; file a complaint or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Atlanta-West Area Office at 678-903-7301.

# # #

Address: 1001 Chattanooga Ave, Dalton, GA 30720
Rocky Ponders 706-217-7568
Rob Goldberg 706-217-7569
Phillip Goldberg 423-645-9500

Polymer Types: PP, Nylon, PET Lifecycle Stages: Post Industrial, Post Consumer We Sell These Material Forms: Chip/Pellet, Nonwoven, Other We Buy These Material Forms: Any Material Form

Frame Q LLC, a Bergen County framing contractor faces $222K in fines after failing to provide proper protection, exposing employees to 20-foot falls at work site

U.S. Department of Labor | October 4, 2016
Frame Q LLC, a Bergen County framing contractor faces $222K in fines after failing to provide proper protection, exposing employees to 20-foot falls at work site
Frame Q LLC previously cited by OSHA in 2014 for same fall hazards

Employer name: Frame Q LLC
315 7th St.
Fairview, New Jersey

Inspection site: 119 Abbott Ave.
Palisades Park, New Jersey

Citations issued: On Sept. 28, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued citations to Frame Q LLC for two repeat safety violations.

Investigation findings: OSHA's inspection began on April 23, 2016, after an OSHA compliance officer observed Frame Q employees performing residential construction framing activities without fall protection. The inspection was also part of the agency's Local Emphasis Program on Falls.

The violations involved the company's failure to provide workers with fall and eye protection. OSHA cited the framing contractor for the same hazards in March 2014 at a work site in nearby Englewood Cliffs.

Quote: "Frame Q continues to jeopardize the safety of its employees by not providing basic safety equipment that saves lives," said Lisa Levy, director of OSHA's Hasbrouck Heights Area Office. "Falls are the number one killer of workers in the construction industry. By not complying with OSHA safety standards, this company is not upholding its legal responsibility to provide employees with a safe workplace, which is unacceptable."

Proposed penalties: $222,697

The citations can be viewed at: https://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/FrameQLLC_1149505.pdf

The employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions; obtain compliance assistance; file a complaint; or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Hasbrouck Heights Area Office at 201-288-1700.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

# # #

Mavis Tire Supply Corp., dba Mavis Discount Tires faces $103K in federal fines after Westfield OSHA inspection finds workers exposed to hazardous chemicals, compressed gas and falls at discount tire retailer

U.S. Department of Labor | October 4, 2016

OSHA finds workers exposed to hazardous chemicals,
compressed gas and falls at discount tire retailer
Mavis Tire faces $103K in federal fines after Westfield inspection

Employer name: Mavis Tire Supply Corp., dba Mavis Discount Tires
343 South Ave. East
Westfield, New Jersey

Inspection site: 343 South Ave. East, Westfield, New Jersey

Citations issued: On Sept. 29, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued citations for one repeat and 7 serious and health and safety violations.

Inspection findings: Acting on an employee allegation that Mavis Tire was exposing workers to safety and health hazards related to water leaking into the workplace's basement, OSHA contacted the store by phone and fax. The employer failed to respond properly, and the agency initiated a health and safety inspection on March 30, 2016. Once completed, OSHA inspectors issued a repeat citation for obstructed exit routes, a violation for which the agency cited Mavis previously in May 2015.

OSHA also identified serious violations, and cited for:
  • Lack of exit signs.
  • Failure to properly store compressed gas cylinders.
  • Not providing guardrails on an open-sided platform 9 feet above ground level.
  • Failure to train workers on chemical safety hazards, and to provide Safety Data Sheets when requested.

Quote: "The hazards cited at Mavis Tire's Westfield location pose serious safety and health dangers to employees. Improperly stored gas cylinders can leak or explode, unmarked exits can lead to disaster during an emergency and missing guardrails on raised platforms creates the potential for dangerous falls," said Patricia Jones, director of OSHA's Avenel Area Office. "This employer needs to address these issues and the other OSHA violations our inspectors found before someone is hurt or killed."

Proposed penalties: $103,331

The citations can be viewed at: https://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/MavisTireSupplyInc_1135880.pdf

The employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions; obtain compliance assistance; file a complaint; or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Avenel Office at 732-750-3270.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

# # #

2 homes completely destroyed, 15 damaged in Paterson, New Jersey natural gas explosion

Eyewitness News has team coverage of the apparent gas explosion that damaged more than a dozen homes in Paterson

Updated 30 mins ago
PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- Firefighters, gas officials and investigators are on the scene of an apparent house explosion in New Jersey Tuesday at
16 Goshen, Paterson, NJ.

The incident happened on Goshen Street in Paterson around 9:25 a.m., and two homes were leveled. A third is likely to be demolished, while others were damaged and on fire. Authorities say 15 houses in a four-block radius suffered some sort of damage.

Neighbors and nearby employees reported a loud boom, followed by flames and heavy smoke.

Firefighters, gas officials and investigators are on the scene of an apparent house explosion in New Jersey. 

"There was a very gassy smell," said Laura, who works in a nearby dental office. "I walked out and saw a whole bunch of people running."

Passaic County authorities confirmed that a gas leak was first reported at the address, and the fire department was on site for at least 20 minutes before the explosion.

The Paterson Fire Department had responded to a heavy odor of gas in the two-family home, and responders believed the leak was emanating from the basement. They could smell it and hear it hissing, and the odor was reportedly so strong that they did not go inside and immediately called for PSE&G.
Debris littered the street, and responders were combing through the smoldering rubble to search for any potential victims, even though it all residents were evacuated prior to the explosion. Later, officials confirmed that 38 people in five homes in the immediate area were all accounted for, and no serious injuries were reported. Still, 10 firefighters were being evaluated.

The Red Cross and other agencies are on scene to offer aid to those who need it.

PSE&G released the following statement:

"PSE&G received a call from the Paterson fire department at approximately 9:15 a.m. informing us about a strong order of gas inside 16 Goshen Street in Paterson. The fire department evacuated residents of 16 Goshen and adjacent homes, as a PSE&G crew and service technician were responding. We have shut off the gas mains and electric service. At this time we do not know the cause of the explosion but will work with local officials to fully investigate."

Passaic County Water reported possible discolored water in Paterson due to fire hydrant use, but officials assured Eyewitness News that it is safe to drink.

 The homes prior to the gas explosion

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley issues an evacuation order to 100 miles inland ahead of Hurricane Matthew; 1.1 million people affected

South Carolina Governor Plans Evacuation

By The Associated PressPORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Oct 4, 2016, 3:47 PM ET

The Latest on Hurricane Matthew and Tropical Storm Nicole (all times local):

2:35 p.m.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley says she plans to issue an evacuation order Wednesday ahead of Hurricane Matthew so that 1 million people can safely and comfortably leave the coast.

Haley said at a Tuesday news conference that she will finalize the order Wednesday morning, unless there is a major shift in the storm's track. Haley says she expects the evacuation to begin at 3 p.m. EDT Wednesday.

State officials say lanes on major evacuation routes will be reversed. It would be the first major evacuation since Hurricane Floyd in 1999, when the governor at the time didn't reverse the lanes and Interstate 26 became backed up for hours and traffic was at a standstill. A two-hour drive from Charleston to Columbia turned into 24-hour nightmare.


1:30 p.m.

U.S. President Barack Obama will speak Wednesday at the Federal Emergency Management Agency about the federal response to Hurricane Matthew.

Obama had been scheduled to travel to Florida on Wednesday for campaign events and a health care event. But the White House says the trip is being postponed because of the hurricane.

Instead, Obama will travel to the agency's Washington headquarters to meet with officials coordinating the response. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate will brief Obama on the latest developments if scheduling allows.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says Obama will be updated on the weather forecast and on operational aspects of preparing for the impacts of the severe weather.


1 p.m.

The White House says that U.S. President Barack Obama has been updated on the path of Hurricane Matthew and its potential impact in the Caribbean and the United States.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday that federal officials have been deployed to state emergency operations centers in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Earnest also says relief supplies have been prepositioned in the region.

The White House also says that U.S. foreign disaster assistance teams have been deployed to Haiti, Jamaica and the Bahamas to ensure that relief efforts are coordinated if U.S. assistance is needed.

Earnest also says that regional response coordination centers in Atlanta and Philadelphia will begin round-the-clock operations Tuesday. And the national response coordination center in Washington will begin 24-hour operations with full staffing on Thursday.

Earnest says relief supplies are being moved into Albany, Georgia and Fort Bragg, North Carolina, so they can be delivered to affected areas quickly after the storm has passed.


12:45 p.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott says residents need to be prepared for a direct hit from Hurricane Matthew.

Scott said while visiting the Daytona Beach area that evacuation orders could be issued as early as Tuesday.

He says Florida could start to feel the hurricane's impact in two or three days.

The governor says his biggest worry is that residents won't take seriously the threat from Matthew if an evacuation order is issued, especially since so many new residents have never lived through a hurricane.

Scott says even if Matthew stays of land, Florida will still feel tropical storm-force winds.

He says 200 National Guardsmen have been activated, and another 6,600 National Guardsmen are at the ready.


Hurricane Matthew is expected to interrupt mosquito control efforts to stop the spread of the Zika virus in the Miami area.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Tuesday that spraying pesticides would not be effective in the tropical storm-force winds expected in the region later this week.

Gimenez said mosquitoes aren't likely to be flying around during the storm, but "the Zika prevention efforts will have to stop during those times."

Gov. Rick Scott said Florida residents should drain standing water from their properties before and after the hurricane to reduce the threat of mosquito-borne viruses.

State health officials have said Miami Beach is the only area where Zika is currently being transmitted, but other infections are being investigated elsewhere in Miami-Dade County and in Palm Beach County.


10:25 a.m.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane watch for South Florida.

The center issued the watch from Deerfield Beach to the Volusia/Brevard county line.

A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area.

A tropical storm watch also is in effect from the Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys northward to south of Deerfield Beach, including Lake Okeechobee.


10:10 a.m.

Officials in the Dominican Republic are reporting that at least four people died when heavy rains linked to Hurricane Matthew damaged their homes.

Emergency Operations Center coordinator Juan Manuel Mendez told a news conference Tuesday that three children were killed when the walls of their homes collapsed in a poor neighborhood in Santo Domingo. An elderly person died in a neighboring province.

That would bring the total death toll from the storm to at least seven.

Rescue agencies in the country say the downpours have destroyed at least two homes and damaged 190 others. Close to 18,000 people living in vulnerable areas have been evacuated and taken to the homes of relatives or to shelters.


10 a.m.

Tropical Storm Nicole has formed in the Atlantic.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says the storm currently poses no threat to land. Nicole is located about 525 miles (840kmh) northwest of San Juan Puerto Rico. It has maximum sustained winds near 50 mph (85kph) with higher gusts.

Little change in strength is expected for the next day or so, followed by gradual weakening.


10:45 a.m.

With Hurricane Matthew expected to impact the South Carolina coast by the weekend, the American Red Cross is issuing a call for volunteers.

Louise Welch Williams, the CEO of the Palmetto, South Carolina Region of the agency based in North Charleston, said Tuesday the Red Cross needs volunteers in the Charleston, Bluffton and Georgetown areas.

The agency says it especially needs volunteers to assist with sheltering and feeding those who may be affected by the hurricane. The agency said volunteers will likely be needed to help residents across the state of South Carolina.

Projections from the National Hurricane Center show that the storm is expected to be off the South Carolina coast early Saturday with maximum winds of about 100 mph.


10:25 a.m.

Gov. Rick Scott is urging residents up and down Florida's Interstate 95 corridor to start preparing for "direct impacts" of Hurricane Matthew.

Scott was in the Florida Keys Tuesday morning for a briefing on the Category 4 storm that is currently moving over the southwestern coast of Haiti. The storm is heading toward Cuba and the southeastern coast of Florida.

The governor warned residents to take the storm seriously, adding "we cannot rule out a direct hit." He says heavy rain, spin off tornadoes, high winds and beach erosion are among the concerns in Florida.

He asked residents to listen for directions from local officials and to "prepare for the worst and hope for the best."

Scott and other officials are urging people to have at least a three-day supply of food, water and medicine on hand. Also, Scott urged people to get gas in their vehicles and to keep cellphones charged in case of electrical power loss.


8:30 a.m.

National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb says Hurricane Matthew will continue to have a devastating impact on Haiti, even after landfall.

Knabb says the storm is about to emerge back over water but there'll still be heavy rainfall that's likely to cause flash floods and mudslides, along with strong winds and storm surges.

The hurricane is heading to eastern Cuba, but Knabb says the island's mountains aren't expected to have much effect on the storm.

Knabb says tropical storm or hurricane watches may be issued for parts of southeastern Florida later Tuesday. A high pressure ridge is nudging Matthew toward Florida and blocking its path due north from the Bahamas.


6:55 a.m.

Hurricane Matthew has made landfall in western Haiti.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the Category 4 storm made landfall around 7 a.m. EDT Tuesday near Les Anglais, Haiti. Matthew's maximum sustained winds are near 145 mph (230 kph).

The hurricane has pounded the southwestern coast of Haiti, threatening a largely rural corner of the impoverished country with devastating storm conditions as it heads north toward Cuba and the eastern coast of Florida.


6 a.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott will make several stops at emergency management offices in the Florida Keys, Daytona Beach and north Florida to give updates on Hurricane Matthew and the storm's potential impact on the state.

Scott will be in Marathon at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, before moving upstate in the afternoon.

The Category 4 storm's maximum sustained winds are near 145 mph (230 kph) as it crosses the southwest peninsula of Haiti, where it's bringing life-threatening rain, wind and storm surge.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says another landfall is expected in eastern Cuba. Forecasters say a tropical storm watch or hurricane watch is likely for parts of Florida later Tuesday.

Senior Hurricane Specialist Richard Pasch says Florida residents should remain vigilant because they can't "rule out the possibility of impacts."


4 a.m.

A hurricane warning has been issued Tuesday morning for the northwest Bahamas as Hurricane Matthew continues its march up the Caribbean.

The hurricane warning in the Bahamas includes the Abacos, Andros Island, Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island, and New Providence.

In the meantime, Matthew's eye is nearing the southwest peninsula of Haiti, where it's bringing life-threatening rain, wind and storm surge.

The Category 4 storm's maximum sustained winds are near 145 mph (230 kph).

Heavy rain has also fallen on Jamaica and dangerous rainfall is a threat for the Dominican Republic, which adjoins Haiti.

SPEED KILLS: Five young people died in a fiery rollover crash when a speeding car went off the road, rolled over and crashed onto trees in Arapahoe County, Colorado

5 teens killed in fiery rollover crash identified
Posted 7:13 am, October 6, 2016, by Chuck Hickey

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — The five teenagers who died in a fiery rollover crash early Sunday morning were identified Wednesday by the Arapahoe County Coroner’s Office.

Levi Andazola, 17, Angelo Andazola, 19, Omar Aniceto, 19, Guadalupe Macias, 15, and Jennifer Flores, 15, were killed when the small sedan they were in rolled and caught fire at the Arapahoe-Elber county line.

The Colorado State Patrol said the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed when it crashed on County Line Road east of Delbert Road at Monarch Circle about 5:30 a.m.

It’s not known who was driving at the time.

The road was closed for several hours as the CSP investigated.

Hispanics and blacks commit disproportionately high traffic accidents resulting in death or other injury.  These teens will certainly not do this again.


5 Young People Killed In ‘Heartbreaking’ Rollover Crash In Arapahoe County October 2, 2016 10:48 AM

By Melissa Garcia

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Five people died in a fiery rollover crash when a speeding car went off the road in Arapahoe County early Sunday morning.

The small sedan was heading westbound on County Line Road near Monarch Circle when it crashed through a barbed wire fence and landed dozens of feet away among a grove of trees in a shallow embankment.

The car went up in flames. All five of the people who were inside of the vehicle died at the scene.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said an area resident, who did not want to provide his name.

Law enforcement shut down County Line Road at Delbert Road for hours as Colorado State Patrol Troopers investigated.

Troopers marked the area with red evidence flags.

A truck towed what was left of the torched vehicle. It was so badly burned that its make and model could not be determined.

Skid marks left on the pavement led to the bent fence posts where the car drove off the two lane roadway.

“(The car) lost control, went off the north side of the road, rolled, and was engulfed in flames,” said Alisha Danko, a Trooper with the Colorado State Patrol.

A resident told CBS4’s Melissa Garcia that young drivers often speed through the rural stretch of road well above the posted limit.

“You get a lot of kids who come out here to go to ‘the third bridge,’ and then they’ll come home and they’ll usually be flying down there like 100, 100+ (miles per hour),” said the anonymous man.

Investigators left behind some signs of what may have contributed to the deadly crash.

Authorities could not say, however, whether alcohol or drugs played a role in the ride that cost five people their lives.

According to the coroner’s office, the victims were of young age. CSP investigators said that Troopers had not yet been able to identify the victims.


Arapahoe County coroner working to identify five people killed in fiery, rollover crash
Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post Co-workers and friends of the driver of a black Volkswagen Jetta visit the severely burned site where five young people were killed in a fiery crash along County Line Road in Arapahoe County on Oct. 3, 2016 near Parker.

By Noelle Phillips | nphillips@denverpost.com
PUBLISHED: October 3, 2016 at 2:49 pm | UPDATED: October 3, 2016 at 7:09 pm

The Arapahoe County coroner is working to identify the three men and two women killed early Sunday morning in a fiery, rollover crash near the Arapahoe/Elbert county line.

All five died on the scene of the 5:41 a.m. crash on County Line Road after the driver lost control and caused the Volkswagon Jetta to roll multiple times, according to the Colorado State Patrol.

One person was ejected from the car, Trooper Nate Reid said. The other four died in the car, which burst into flames after the crash.

Traffic investigators believe excessive speed to be a factor in the fatal wreck, Reid said.

On Sunday afternoon, investigators said the bodies were so badly burned that it would be hard to identify the victims. They believed the victims were young and expected calls from family members looking for children.

The car also had a temporary license plate, which was destroyed in the fire, according to previous reports.