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Friday, November 6, 2009 - 9:46am

Imperial Sugar Returns To Full Production

The Imperial Sugar plant near Savannah is celebrating a return to full production for the first time since the February 2008 explosion that killed 14 workers.

Celebrations this weekend mark the completion of a packaging plant, the last phase of a three phrase, 20-month rebuilding process.

The $220 million rebuild of the Port Wentworth sugar refinery includes new packaging machines and loading devices designed to prevent dust accumulations like those blamed for last year's deadly explosion.

Imperial Sugar C.E.O. John Sheptor says, the refinery is now the most modern and state-of-the-art in the nation.

"We've done more study, we've made more changes in our plants than any of the other producers of sugar in the U-S," Sheptor says.

But the public will have to take his word for it, since while the company invited media on a tour Friday, no independent body is responsible for making sure the plant is rebuilt to safety standards.

Imperial is fighting regulatory charges of egregious safety violations at the plant. It's also enmeshed in a lawsuit by victims' families.

Click here to hear John Sheptor, CEO of Imperial Sugar, discuss the new plant's safety features and why the public should trust him:

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