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Remains of 2nd Cargill Employee Recovered from Avery Island Salt Mine

Searchers in Louisiana have recovered the remains of a second employee tragically killed in a roof collapse earlier this week at Cargill’s Avery Island salt mine.

“On Tuesday evening, the rescue team recovered the second of the two missing miners who was also fatally injured in the accident at our Avery Island mine,” Cargill said in a statement issued on Wednesday. “Our hearts are broken for our colleagues and their families.”

Iberia Parish Coroner Identifies Cargill Salt Mine Collapse Victims

The roof collapse occurred sometime on the morning of December 14th, as 18 miners were working at the Avery Island mine.  All but two escaped without injury.

The body of one miner was discovered Tuesday, more than 24 hours after he was reported missing. Search crews recovered the remains of his comrade later that evening.

The Iberia Parish Coroner’s Office has since identified one of the deceased as a 27-year-old recently married man from Broussard. The second victim, a 42-year-old man from New Iberia, leaves behind a wife and child.

Cargill Avery Island Mine’s History of Safety Violations

Located along Highway 329 South, about 30 miles south of Lafayette, the Avery Island mine produces about 2 million tons of road salt annually. The mine is operated by Cargill Deicing Technology and owned by an affiliate of the McIlhenny Company, which produces Tabasco pepper sauce.

During the past year alone, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has cited the Avery Island salt mine more than 50 times for various safety violations. Among other things, the mine was cited for failing to properly secure unattended mining equipment, failing to maintain two-way communications systems for underground workers, and improperly halting other activities during blasting operations.

Two months before Monday’s collapse, Cargill resolved citations for failing to maintain safe access to all parts of the mine and proper protections around openings for travel ways inside the mine.

In November 2019, the Avery Island salt mine was cited for improper maintenance of escape routes. That case is still pending with the MHSA.

While the cause of Monday’s roof collapse remains under investigation, Cargill maintains that the incident was not related to any recent citations.

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