Federal mine safety officials found 33 violations at the Dragon Products cement company in Thomaston during an inspection in May, the latest in a string of violations that have led to tens of thousands of dollars in fines over the past several years, federal records show.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration conducted what is known as an “impact inspection” at the Thomaston plant and issued the 33 citations, including ten for “significant and substantial” violations, the federal records show.
The agency says it conducts “impact inspections” at sites with “poor compliance history, previous accidents, injuries and illnesses; and other compliance concerns.” A “significant and substantial” violation “is reasonably likely to lead to a reasonably serious injury or illness,” the agency said.
“The Mine Safety and Health Administration is troubled by the fact that our impact inspections continue to discover the same hazards we’ve identified as root causes for many of the fatal accidents that have occurred this year,” Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Chris Williamson said in a press release.
According to the mining safety agency’s database, Dragon was cited under a number of regulations, including requirements for safety guards and walkways; the requirement that employers keep workplaces and passageways clean and orderly; that employers safely store gas cylinders; provide a safe means of access in the workplace; and safely remove flammable liquids that have spilled.
In a statement, Dragon described the citations as “primarily related to housekeeping,” and said it “promptly addressed these citations and worked closely with MSHA to improve plant Safety.”
“The number of citations does not reflect our commitment to safety, and we took this opportunity to work with MSHA to improve our plant safety,” Jennifer Small, the plant manager, said in a statement.
Fines have not been issued for the latest violations, though Dragon has paid numerous fines for mine safety and health violations over the past several years, according to the federal agency’s website.
In 2022, it paid $150,113 for mine safety and health violations, according to federal records. In 2021, it paid $76,726, and in 2020 it paid $133,805, the records show.
It has also periodically been cited by the state for air quality violations.
Dragon was among 16 mines where the mine safety and health agency conducted impact inspections in May, including sites in Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Nebraska, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.
The largest number of violations were found at the Holcim US Inc.’s quarry in Fremont County, Colorado, where inspectors issued 56 citations.
Dragon Products Company, Inc. is a subsidiary of Giant Cement Holding Inc. of South Carolina and has been in operation since 1928. In addition to its cement manufacturing plant in Thomaston, the company also owns and operates a limestone quarry, providing the raw material for cement production.