Sugar plant said to lack exit training before 2008 fire

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SAVANNAH -- Imperial Sugar Co. failed to show many workers at its local plant how to escape during a fire prior to a 2008 tragedy that killed 14 people and injured many more, federal interview reports indicate.

At least 20 of the dead and injured in the Feb. 8 incident suffered severe burns and were treated at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta.

Information on the lack of escape-route training came during interviews with workers conducted by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration after the explosions and fire at the Port Wentworth refinery.

Sworn statements show company officials discussed evacuation issues three months before, but it's not clear what action they took.

Sonji Jacobs Dade, a spokeswoman for Imperial Sugar, said the company has no comment.

OSHA is seeking $8.8 million in fines for alleged safety violations at Port Wentworth and at the company plant in Gramercy, La.

Imperial is appealing.


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