Sheptor on Mid-Morning Live about hearings, fines and progress - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Sheptor on Mid-Morning Live about hearings, fines and progress

Imperial Sugar CEO John Sheptor Imperial Sugar CEO John Sheptor

By Sarah Schuster - email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Since July 25, headlines have been filled with the news of the fines brought against Imperial Sugar by OSHA stemming from the refinery's explosion in February which killed 13 people and injured 40 others.

This citations set the record of being the third largest fine handed out by OSHA with numbers adding up to almost $9 million. Today, Imperial Sugar CEO John Sheptor sat down with us on Mid-Morning Live to discuss the future of the Port Wentworth facility, OSHA's findings and the recent Senate subcommittee hearing on combustible dust.

OSHA's recent fines and citations came as a shock to many in the Port Wentworth and Imperial Sugar communities. But Tuesday's Senate hearing was not called as a result of OSHA's findings.

"It's two very distinct processes," Sheptor told us. "The Senate is responding to an action that was taken by the House earlier this year to review whether OSHA had responded properly to recommendation two years ago by the Chemical Safety Board."

According to Sheptor, the House recently passed a bill forcing OSHA to set a combustible dust standard for all companies which deal with that kind of material to follow.

Now, that bill is in the hands of the Senate and the recent hearings were all part of the process to help determine OSHA's responsibility with setting those standards.

The hearings are taking a look at plants all over the county, not just Imperial Sugar, but any plant which deals with combustible dust.

Sheptor says there are 30,000 companies in the country which manage products with combustible dust and that's why setting a standard is so important.

But what does all this mean for the rebuilding progress at the Port Wentworth facility? Sheptor says it's all on track. 

"The board has granted the management team authority to enter into a construction contracts to now transition the projects to engineering into construction and we are still on a go to complete this project and have this plant operational," he said.

Tonight at the Savannah Riverfront Marriott, Imperial Sugar is holding a fundraiser to raise money for the victim's families.

We'll let you know how much they raised and we'll hear from Sheptor coming up later tonight on THE News. 

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