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Lovell sugar factory closed for inspection

The Western Sugar Cooperative factory in Lovell has been temporarily shut down while federal and state regulators inspect the facility following a fatal Jan. 4 accident.

Derek Grant, a spokesman for the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, said the sugar refinery’s operations were halted Friday when an inspection led by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began.

“It’s undergoing inspection now to make sure everything’s cleaned and operating the way it should,” Grant said late Monday.

A 28-year-old Western Sugar Cooperative employee, Anfesa “Ky” Galaktionoff, was killed Jan. 4 after apparently falling into a piece of industrial equipment — a lift station — that shuttles sugar beets into the factory, the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office has said.

A portion of the Western Sugar factory closed the night of the accident while emergency responders recovered the worker’s body. The factory resumed operations on the morning of Jan. 5 after being cleared to do so by the sheriff’s office, a Western Sugar spokesman previously told the Tribune.

“I want to make it clear that it’s called a sugar refinery. It’s a refining process. Refining, by definition, means purifying, and the closed circulation system had no bearing or involvement on the sugar production of the factory,” Big Horn County Sheriff Ken Blackburn told the Lovell Chronicle last week. “It was a closed system largely outside the factory.”

Grant said product produced after the accident has been embargoed as a part of the inspection.

Workplace safety investigators with the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration had contacted the Department of Agriculture about an inspection, which in turn contacted the FDA, Grant said.

The Tribune was unable to immediately reach a spokesman for Western Sugar late Monday and FDA press offices were closed. An employee at the sugar factory said she was not authorized to comment.

1 comment

  • posted by Ivan Hoist

    January 15, 2014 10:14 am

    The process of making sugar is dangerous. The whole process from beginning to end requires serious attention. Proper training and follow thru is extremely important.The poor family cannot replace a loved one. I worked in a sugar factory for 25 years and have seen major improvements in the process. Some with the help of OSHA some with the Company taking responsiblity. This will not help in this case but hopefully it will be the last loss of life in the sugar industry.

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