Imperial Sugar Hit Hard By OSHA

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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