Imperial Sugar making some progress - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Imperial Sugar making some progress

Imperial Sugar CEO John Sheptor shows us the plans for the new refinery. Imperial Sugar CEO John Sheptor shows us the plans for the new refinery.

By Brooke Kelley - bio | email

PORT WENTWORTH, GA (WTOC) - Imperial Sugar is continuing to rebuild and is still trying to figure out what happened the night of February 7.

"We do not believe they found a cause for the explosion," said Imperial Sugar CEO John Sheptor.

The explosion rocked our entire community as thousands felt the pain of the victims and their families.

Crews are still tearing down the damaged parts of the plant while thoughts now turn toward the future.

This afternoon, we took a tour of Imperial Sugar. The three silos that were heavily damaged in the explosion are almost gone.

Crews are working hard to remove all the debris. They hope that in two weeks, the cleanup process should be over and the rebuilding of the facility can begin.

"I look forward to celebrating that moment," said Sheptor.

For the first time we are getting the chance to see the plans for the new packaging portion of the facility, the area that was most heavily damaged by the explosion. Sheptor says he hopes to have the plant fully operational by June of next year.

Imperial Sugar has hired several outside companies to help them rebuild the new state of the art facility.

A key in the rebuilding of the plant will come out of the investigation report OSHA is planning to release Friday.

"We expect the fines will be substantial and we will take a number of days to review the report and in the next couple of weeks we plan to give them our view and then it will move into a settlement phase," said Sheptor. "We believe the focus of the report will be on contributing factors of the explosion that's why you have to hear about house keeping."

Along with fines, OSHA can also recommend a new safety plan for the plant.

"We share the same purpose to create safest work place possible for employees," said Sheptor.

He says the last five months have been extremely difficult on the company, and even though nothing can take away the pain and memory of this tragedy, he applauds the employees for their strength and hard work.

"I just want to congratulated the employees for their dedication and commitment and for doing what's right," said Sheptor.

Sheptor indicated the proceedings had become somewhat politically charged citing the timing of OSHA's report initially due August 8 but now accelerated for release one day prior to senate hearings on combustible dust.

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