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Imperial Sugar Hit Hard By OSHA

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The pride of Sugar Land, the Imperial Sugar Co., has just

been hit by one

of the stiffest fines ever handed out by the feds' worker-safety agency.

OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said Imperial should be fined $8.7 million for violations at a Georgia plant where an explosion killed 13 people this year and also at a Louisiana plant.

The company issued a press release saying the feds are wack.

Saying Imperial shares with OSHA a deep, deep concern for not having explosions that kill 13 people working at their plants, or words to that effect, CEO John Sheptor added:

"Today we received citations from OSHA and made our initial review and evaluation of the allegations contained in the citations. Based on this review, we have filed with OSHA a 'notice of contest' of the citations, in which we challenge the allegations of the citations, the characterization of the violations and the penalties proposed."

The OSHA fine -- third-largest ever levied by the agency -- comes at a bad time for the sugar giant. Its stock has been struggling this year.

And, with a net profit of about $40 million last fiscal year, a fine of $8.7 million is a definite hit.

Not a good day out in Sugar Land.

-- Richard Connelly

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