Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Enbridge contractor fired over safety, documentation issues

MARSHALL, Mich. - Enbridge Inc.'s main contractor on the efforts to
clean up the recent oil spill on the Kalamazoo River let go a subcontractor after allegations that it was using undocumented workers and was not abiding by federal safety standards.
Enbridge spokeswoman Terri Larson confirmed on Aug. 31 that Houston-based Garner Environmental Services terminated its agreement with Hallmark Industrial LLC, also of Texas, on Aug. 30 after an Aug. 30 report in the Michigan Messenger about the undocumented workers and safety issues.
The report said that hundreds of Hallmark workers were undocumented and were working in unsafe conditions, working 12 to 14 hour shifts, seven days a week, and getting paid in cash.
"They made that decision independently," Larson said of Garner, noting that Enbridge has "no reason to be concerned" about Garner's ability to perform the cleanup work, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has told Enbridge must be wrapped up by Sept. 27.
Photos of the worksite provided by the Messenger, an online news and public policy website, to the EPA prompted the agency to contact Enbridge to make sure the company was following all safety regulations, said Mark Durno, the EPA's deputy incident commander for the spill response.
In some of the photos, workers were seen in so-called "clean zones" wearing oil-covered protective gear. In others, workers wearing the same oil-contaminated gear were seen next to food and water.
Enbridge has complied with an EPA order to re-educate its workers and those employed by its contractors on safety issues, Durno said.

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