STATEMENT BY U.S. ATTORNEY JOHN WALSH REGARDING THE GUILTY PLEA AND SENTENCING OF RPI COATING
“On October 2, 2007, five men went to work, putting their safety and well being in the hands of their employer, RPI Coating. RPI Coating had been awarded a contract by XCel Energy to recoat a penstock at the Cabin Creek Hydroelectric Plant near Georgetown, Colorado. That day turned out to be the last day of those five men’s lives. Because of systemic failures and willful OSHA violations on the part of RPI, a fire broke out inside the penstock. The fire trapped the men, blocking their escape route. The men did not have the proper emergency equipment or emergency personnel to extricate the men from the pipe. The men were working almost ¼ of a mile from the entrance to the pipe. They waited for over 3 hours for a rescue, but they ultimately died of carbon monoxide poisoning and smoke asphyxiation.
“Today RPI is taking responsibility for these brave men’s deaths by pleading guilty to five counts of violating OSHA regulations resulting in death. The guilty plea and immediate sentencing took place before Chief U.S. District Court Judge Wiley Y. Daniel. Following the guilty pleas RPI was sentenced to 5 years probation. As part of their probation they have agreed to make changes to their safety practices. The U.S. Probation Department will monitor the company to ensure these changes are made.
“Most importantly, RPI has agreed to pay $1,650,000 in penalties and compensation, most of which will go to the families of the victims of this crime. They are also responsible to comply with the stringent terms of Probation or face an additional $2,500,000 fine.
“I would like to thank the investigators from OSHA, including investigator Michael Lynham for their hard work investigating this crime. I would also like to recognize Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jaime Pena and John Haried for their prosecution of this case.”
STATEMENT BY GREG BAXTER, REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR OF THE OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION DENVER OFFICE REGARDING THE GUILTY PLEA AND SENTENCING OF RPI COATING
“Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the families affected by this needless tragedy – it never should have happened,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Greg Baxter. “Neither money nor protracted litigation can restore these men’s lives; however, this settlement sends a message that we will work collaboratively with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver to see those who callously choose not to protect employees be criminally prosecuted. We simply will not allow workers’ lives to be put at risk in order to earn a day’s wages. We greatly appreciate the excellent work done by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver in this case. We also would like to thank Assistant U.S. Attorney Jaime Peña for his personal commitment to this case.”
NOTE: Today’s action is a global resolution of this matter, thus eliminating all civil, administrative and regulatory matters against RPI. Also, the cases against the two individual defendants will also be dismissed as part of the agreement.
If you have questions or need additional information please contact U.S. Attorney spokesman Jeff Dorschner at 303-454-0243.
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