Breaking: Feds reach deal with Imperial Sugar

AJC exclusive: Imperial Sugar to pay more than $4 million in penalties

Imperial Sugar Co. will pay more than $6 million in fines and penalties for violations found in the aftermath of the February 2008 explosion at its Georgia plant.

The settlement, to be announced today by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Washington, comes more than two years after the explosion at the Port Wentworth facility killed 14 and seriously injured dozens more.

"This agreement requires Imperial Sugar to make extensive changes to its safety practices, and it underscores the importance of proactively addressing workplace safety and health hazards," U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said in a news release obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Imperial Sugar will pay just more than $4 million in penalties for the 124 violations found at the Port Wentworth plant, plus $2 million for 97 violations found following an inspection of the company's Gramercy, La., plant. The government found safety and health hazards and determined that "the company failed to properly address combustible dust hazards."

The company has agreed to correct all OSHA-reported deficiencies, to provide preventative maintenance and to hire and maintain a certified safety professional at the Georgia plant.