Officials Launch Criminal Investigation Against Recycler

Two Employees Died While Working At Plant

A criminal investigation into the deaths of two workers at a recycling plant is now underway. Two brothers were killed October 12 at Community Recycling near Arvin.

Armando Ramirez, 16, was cleaning the inside of a drainage pipe when he was overcome by toxic fumes. His brother, 22-year-old Eladio Ramirez went in to save his brother and was also knocked out by the gas.

Armando died later that day. Eladio lingered on life support before being declared brain dead. He died a few days later.

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  • Now the state has opened a separate investigation to determine if the deaths were a crime.

    Multiple state and federal agencies have opened up investigations into the tragedy. Cal OSHA's Bureau of Investigations wants to know if anything criminal caused the two Mexican nationals to die.

    Any evidence they uncover will be turned over to the District Attorney for potential prosecution.

    Community activist Sal Partida says the two victims, Armando and Eladio Ramirez, were just trying to support their families.

    “These innocent people, they had no idea that they were going to go to work that day and die," Partida said.

    State Sen. Michael Rubio is calling on the Kern County Board of Supervisors to close down Community Recycling.

    Zack Scrivner is the supervisor for that part of the county and he is calling on Cal OSHA to speed up their investigation so the board can have the evidence they say they need to take action against the company.

    “I’m upset because the board of supervisors had the chance to shut this place down a year ago and instead they went ahead and gave them one more chance," Partida said.

    Cal OSHA says the average length of their investigations is 3 1/2 to four months. State law gives them six months. They say in this case they will likely have to wait for lab results before making an official ruling. Cal OSHA says they ordered the company to stop using a hose to clean the pipe where the men died until the hazard can be eliminated.

    "We have given them every chance there is to remedy the situation and I don’t think they are interested in that they are just interested in making money at the cost of people's lives," Partida said.

    Meanwhile, a Mass for the victims will be held at Saint Thomas Catholic Church in Arvin at 6 p.m. Friday. There will be a rosary at Arvin Funeral Home from 2 p.m. to midnight on Saturday.

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