The manufacturing company, Two Rivers Terminal, works with dangerous chemicals for agricultural fertilizer, airports, pulp and paper, and water treatment in Moses Lake, Pasco and Umatilla. They now is face $479,700 in fines for having a worker unload molten sulfur from a rail car without wearing the proper respiratory protection, along with seven willful serious violations, seven serious violations and four general violations.

During a January 2023 investigation, L&I inspectors found that an employee who had been working on top of a rail car became incapacitated and fell to the ground after being exposed to the toxic gas hydrogen sulfide, suffering serious injuries. According to L&I, the worker was not wearing a hydrogen sulfide gas monitor, respiratory protection or fall protection.

The report also indicated that at the time of the incident, the worker had a full beard that would not allow the proper seal of a respirator. Also, personal hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide monitors were not issued to employees until the day after the fall.

According to Craig Blackwood, assistant director for L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, “It’s hard to overstate how serious a risk they were taking with their workers’ lives. We’re focusing our enforcement efforts on making sure Two Rivers is doing everything it must to ensure its workers return home safely at the end of the day.”

It was back on January 26th of this year when L&I inspectors issued an Order of Immediate Restraint, stopping work at the molten sulfur rail car unload area until the company took specific steps to make their workers safer, including providing respirators and ensuring they fit and were used properly. That order was then lifted Feb. 6.

However, on February 16th, inspectors returned to perform a walk-through of the rail car unload area, and the sulfur forming unit. There, they observed and photographed a Two Rivers Terminal worker loosening the bolts to a man-way hatch on a molten sulfur rail car. One inspector said he could see a bluish/white plume of smoke, hear the hiss of gas escaping from the man-way hatch, and he could hear multiple alarms coming from employee’s hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide monitor. The inspector concluded that just loosening the bolts on the man-way hatch allows toxic gas to escape, substantiating the willful violations found during the initial inspection.

It was back in October of '22 when Two Rivers was previously cited for more than 60 safety violations following an inspection. According to a press release from L&I, six of the recent willful violations are for hazards that were not fixed from the 2022 citations.

The company has appealed both the 2022 and 2023 citations.

A 12-Pack of Top Finger Lakes Region Craft Breweries!

While the Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York is now known nationally for its many fine wineries and vineyards, they also have an impressive line up of craft breweries to enjoy also. Here are a dozen of the best.

Gallery Credit: Chuck D'Imperio

More From 610 KONA