Community Recycling Fined By Cal/OSHA

Facility Hit With 16 Citations

The Kern County composter where two brothers died last year has been hit with fines.

The California Occupational Safety and Health Program, or Cal/OSHA, announced Wednesday that Community Recycling has been fined more than $166,000.

It was last October when two brothers died on the job at Community Recycling.

Now, the state has slapped the facility with citations and fines and says the brothers didn’t have to die.

Armando and Eladio Ramirez were working at Community Recycling Oct. 12 when something went wrong.

Sixteen-year-old Armando had gone into a concrete drainage pipe to clean it out. He was overcome by hydrogen sulfide gas and passed out.

His brother, 22-year-old Eladio, went in after him but was also overcome.

Armando died at the scene, and Eladio died at Kern Medical Center about a month later. Now Cal/OSHA says Community Recycling didn't give the brothers the right training or safety equipment.

"This needs to be shown as an example of what can happen on the job if people are not trained properly and people don’t follow the safety rules," community activist Sal Partida said.

Partida has close contact with the Ramirez family, and he says because the family works in the fields, they probably haven't even heard about Wednesday's developments yet.

"They want justice. They want justice for their sons," Partida said.

Cal/OSHA also fined Eladio Ramirez’s employer, A&B Harvesting, $1,125.

"This is just a slap on the wrist. It should have been a lot more. It should have been in the millions, not a little bit like $166,000," Partida said, referring to the fine against Community Recycling.

Cal/OSHA says there is the possibility criminal charges could still be filed in the case. They say the state is still investigating and will turn over their findings to the Kern County District Attorney who will make the final decision on charges.

"There should be criminal charges because there are two people's lives that are dead there," Partida said.

Through its lawyers Community Recycling issued a press release. They say they have not seen the actual citations, so they cannot comment on the allegations. They say the deaths were the first ever in the facility's 17-year history. Community Recycling also says it has reviewed its entire safety program and will continue to work to make sure something like this never happens again.

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