Following the December 14th Salt Mine collapse, Cargill recently decided to shutter its salt production on Avery Island. Though its lease expires at the end of 2021, Cargill stated that the business decision was based on future economics and production capacity after a slow winter. All operations at the mine have been suspended since the incident due ongoing federal investigations.
Eighteen employees of Cargill, a global food corporation, reported to work inside Avery Island’s Salt Mine on December 14th. Those employees’ lives would change within hours as the salt mine’s roof collapsed, leaving two employees stranded inside.
24-hour search teams began looking for the missing employees immediately; although, the rescue was not successful until the next day. Around 3:00pm on December 15th, the search team found the first employee and identified him as 27-year-old Lance Begnaud. The second employee, 41-year-old Rene Romero, was found later that evening. Both suffered fatal injuries and were pronounced dead upon recovery.
Though the investigation remains ongoing, over 50 safety citations within the last year from the Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) linger, raising questions about the safety practices within the Avery Island salt mine. The array of violations range from not properly halting other activities during blasting activities to improper maintenance of escape routes within the mine.
Citation records indicate 4 violations by Cargill for not properly making available self-rescue equipment to all employees inside the mine. Further, Cargill received 11 citations within the weeks leading up to the December 14th explosion, with a December 3rd citation for having hazardous ground conditions.
As Cargill and MSHA search for an explanation behind the collapse, the deceased employees’ families mourn their loss. The 27-year-old Begnaud leaves behind two daughters and his wife who is pregnant for the couple’s third child. Romero is survived by his wife and daughter.
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injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered harm because of the fault of
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