Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘worthington’

Christmas day is fast approaching and many are wondering if their Christmas wishes will come true. Retailers are hoping for a boost in sales, Senate Democrats are hoping to keep their act together and pass health care legislation, children are hoping they were good enough for Santa and families in Minnesota are bracing for a major winter storm and hoping it won’t totally ruin their Christmas celebrations.

For some families, a winter storm is the least of their worries. Last week  I struck up a conversation with a recently hired co-worker. He was a short fellow with an ever-present smile and eager to do his share of work. His english was broken but still good enough that we could converse. A recent immigrant to the U.S., he and his wife and many other families have relocated to Worthington from a refugee camp in Thailand where he spent the last ten years of his life. He is a native of Karen, a region in southeastern Burma bordering Thailand. His two sons are in Canada and he still has a daughter in a refuge camp in Thailand. Other family members are now in Australia. Of course our conversation turned to politics and government and he did not hesitate to show his disdain for the Burmese government and the military junta control over virtually everything. He also made sure that I understood that he was Karen, proud of it, and that there was a difference.

The Karen people have sought independence from Burma since 1949. Charges of ethnic cleansing and religious persecution have been leveled at the Burmese government, now known as the Republic of Myanmar. The Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) has been documenting the plight of the Karen people for over 17 years and has a wealth of information in the form of reports, pictures and video on its website. KHRG also can be found on Facebook and Twitter. 

My Christmas wish? Health and happiness to all my family and friends, a world without war and a future where my new union brother will be able to reunite his entire family.

Kawthoolei is the name used by the Karen people for the state they wish to establish. It has several possible meanings: Flowerland, Land without Evil, and The Land Burnt Black. Whatever its meaning, I know that it is a beautiful country ravaged by war.

 Here is a video of  traditional Karen music:

Here is a video with a series of clips. Beautiful, interesting and sad.

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Today at approximately 10:00 A.M. a portion of the JBS Swift plant was evacuated due to an ammonia leak. The Worthington Daily Globe was on the scene and covers the story in 40 JBS employees treated after ammonia leak.  Daily Globe photographer Brian Korthals was able to take a few pictures from the roof of  a vehicle just outside the JBS property (we watched you from the cafeteria windows).

I was one of the many evacuees who hastily left the building and fortunately was not affected by ammonia. The group of employees I was with were at the back of the property for about 35 minutes when we were told we could reenter the building through the front and proceed to the facilities cafeteria which was unaffected by the leak.  I was then able to get a better idea of what was going on because I had a good view of all the emergency vehicles that were gathered outside the front of the building. My thoughts were with the brothers and sisters who were being transported to the hospital. I hoped that they would all be ok and according to published reports most were treated and released with only a few admitted for further observation. The leak was contained and after the affected areas were cleared of the ammonia we returned to work.

UFCW Local 1161 officials were on the scene and will be actively involved in the ensuing investigation of the cause of the leak and the effectiveness of the evacuation. I have my own observations and thoughts which I will share with the Local 1161 and JBS Swift.

Ammonia leaks are serious.

They can be deadly.

Once the cause of this leak is accurately determined, it is extremely important that preventative measures be taken to prevent its recurrence. A critical look at evacuation procedures is also necessary to determine if the evacuation could have been done better. Hopefully the end result will be a safer workplace.  Of course, I am sure MNOSHA will have a role in the investigation. The state OSHA officials investigated an ammonia leak at this plant in January of 2008 which resulted in the JBS Swift receiving a citation and a nominal fine. I wrote about that incident in a previous post, JBS Swift workers evacuated. Workers were evacuated and hospitalized during that incident also and the cause of the leak was determined to be a faulty valve.

I have been involved in several evacuations over the years and once got a shot of ammonia.  My eyes, nose, throat and lungs were immediately in distress and I couldn’t get fresh air fast enough. I turned out ok (well, some may say my brain was affected). It is something I will never forget. I do not live in fear of an ammonia leak but I am acutely aware of its deadly potential. I hope I never experience another one.

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

Read Full Post »

More water woes!

GW released his 2009 budget today and one of the casualties was the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System. News reports from KELOTV and the Sioux Falls Argus Leader state that the LCRWS will receive nothing, nada, zilch in the Bush 2009 budget. When completed, Lewis & Clark will provide safe, reliable drinking water to over 300,000 people in the tri-state area. Members in southwest Minnesota include Luverne, Worthington, Rock County Rural Water, and Linclon-Pipestone Rural Water. The project has been backed by 1st CD Rep. Tim Walz, Senator Amy Klobuchar and Senator Norm Coleman and Governor Tim Pawlenty.

I am waiting to see what the reaction from our elected officials in Minnesota will be.

For more budget info go to A Bluestem Prairie for some informative links on other casualties of the Bush budget.

Peace & solidarity

CHC

Read Full Post »

According to the published report in the Worthington Daily Globe, Ammonia leak sends JBS Swift workers to hospital, 25 workers were sent to Worthington Regional Hospital and 9 workers were transported to Sanford Luverne Community Hospital. The ammonia leak apparently occurred a little before 10:00 p.m. Tuesday night. Normally I would have first hand information on this because JBS Swift is where I work but since I took a vacation day today I had to read about it in the paper.

Hopefully the workers exposed to the ammonia will not have any long term health problems. An ammonia leak  is serious and can be very deadly if immediate action is not taken to evacuate anyone who could be exposed. Many years ago (I’ve been there 23 years) I had the experience of being involved in an ammonia leak at the Swift plant. I did not require any medical treatment but remember vividly the burning sensation in my eyes and throat as I was momentarily exposed to a blast of leaking ammonia. The employees were also evacuated during that leak.

MNOSHA has been been informed of the incident according to JBS Swift human resources manager, Jenny Anderson-Martinez, but is unsure if they will make a visit to investigate. I hope they do come and investigate and review the company’s Process Safety Management (PSM) program. The federal OSHA website says this about the PSM standard:

Unexpected releases of toxic, reactive, or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals have been reported for many years in various industries that use chemicals with such properties. Regardless of the industry that uses these highly hazardous chemicals, there is a potential for an accidental release any time they are not properly controlled, creating the possibility of disaster.

To help ensure safe and healthful workplaces, OSHA has issued the Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals standard (29 CFR 1910.119), which contains requirements for the management of hazards associated with processes using highly hazardous chemicals.

Since JBS Swift uses huge amounts of ammonia as a refrigerant they must comply with the PSM standard. This standard is meant to protect the workers and the surrounding community since an accidental release could drift into populated areas. There are miles of piping and hundreds of valves in the system at JBS Swift so it requires constant monitoring, preventive maintenance,  training and updating. You can not be too vigilant with this system because the potential for disaster is so high if there is a major failure. Again, I hope MNOSHA makes a visit to do a hands on investigation so that we have complete answers to what caused this leak and what steps are being taken to prevent another incident. I certainly be asking a lot of questions.

Peace & solidarity

CHC

Read Full Post »

This afternoon Pioneer Public TV aired a production from Okabena Media about George Dayton, founder of the Dayton Department store, and the grand Victorian mansion he built in Worthington, Minnesota. The 30 minute video, directed by Ray Lowry, has a lot of historical information about George Dayton (great grandfather of former Minnesota Senator Mark Dayton) and his role in the development of the city of Worthington. Basically a slide-show with a narrative, I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more pictures of the Dayton house, however the information presented was good and gives a look at the struggles of the pioneers on prairie.

Like many residents of southwest Minnesota, I remember the home as the Cashel Nursing Home. Ruth Cashel owned and operated the home and I remember meeting her when I worked in Worthington at a former job. My impression of her is of a strong, independent, feisty woman. She was a frequent letter writer to the local newspaper and wasn’t afraid to voice an unpopular opinion. Her husband, John Cashel, was a Minnesota state senator.

You can view the video online at Okabena Media by clicking on the films link. The Historic Dayton House has a website which has a history of the house and its residents and you can also take a virtual tour. More information of Ruth Cashel  is on the site as well as other residents of the home.

Historic Worthington, Inc., the non-profit organization that restored and preserved the home, deserves hearty congratulations for making this piece of history available to the public.

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

Read Full Post »