A large asphalt company based in Albany will pay a reduced penalty for violations cited after the death of two workers in an explosion last fall — $8,873 for each man's death.
Gorman Bros. Inc. and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Labor, agreed on the settlement earlier this month and closed the case Wednesday, according to details of the case posted with the incident's fatality inspection record.
Gorman, which owns the company Mohawk Asphalt Emulsions on Freemans Bridge Road in the town of Glenville where the accident occurred, was penalized in April $12,675 each for what OSHA called "serious" violations related to the deaths of Joseph Nichols and Alfred Crowter.
On Oct. 17, Nichols, Crowter and another employee were transferring liquid asphalt from a storage tank to a tanker trailer when they used a propane torch to heat a line to make the asphalt flow easier. The torch ignited kerosene vapors and caused a flash fire, according to OSHA's fatality report. The fire set off a series of blasts, sending black smoke into the air. Nichols, 56, of Amsterdam, was burned over 95 percent of his body and died two days later at Westchester Medical Center. Crowter, 42, of Mayfield, Fulton County, was burned over 65 percent of his body and died on Nov. 3. The third employee, Brian Jones, suffered minor burns and survived.
At the time, Thomas Corners Fire Chief Gregg Petricca said the men were off-loading a kerosene-diesel-fuel--tar mix — essentially tar cut with kerosene.
The penalty was reduced to $8,873 for each man after about two weeks of negotiation, according to settlement dates contained in the inspection record. OSHA listed the total fine as $17,745.
Gorman says it's the largest deep-water asphalt terminal on the East Coast, with its base of operations at Port of Albany. The Mohawk Asphalt facility is on the bank of the Mohawk River and has 38 tanks storing various liquids.