Jay Mather / Bee file, 2004

Aerojet Corp. in Rancho Cordova is seen in this 2004 aerial photograph.

Aerojet facing $67,000 in fines for explosion that killed worker in Rancho Cordova

Published: Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2014 - 12:02 pm

Aerojet Rocketdyne is facing potential fines totaling nearly $67,000 over an explosion that killed a worker at its Rancho Cordova plant last November.

The California Division of Occupational Safety proposed $66,935 in fines against the rocket-engine manufacturer following an investigation into the Nov. 19 incident.

Aerojet is contesting the fines, said Cal/OSHA spokesman Peter Melton.

While the agency has levied stiffer fines – the record is $963,000 following an East Bay refinery fire – Melton said the proposed fines against Aerojet are considerable.

“It’s a lot,” he said.

The agency was called in after employee Robert F. Ortiz, 54, was injured in the explosion. The Citrus Heights man died at UC Davis Medical Center in April from his injuries.

Ortiz worked for Aerojet for 33 years, according to his family.

The agency found six violations categorized as “serious,” as well as three less serious violations. Aerojet has corrected each of the problems, according to agency records.

Melton said the explosion occurred as Ortiz was cutting through solid rocket propellant with a bandsaw. Among other things, Cal/OSHA determined that Aerojet training procedures were inadequate, Melton said.

Glenn Mahone, a spokesman for Aerojet’s parent, GenCorp Inc. of Rancho Cordova, confirmed the company is appealing the citations and added: “Our ongoing commitment to maintaining compliance with Cal/OSHA regulations and ensuring the health and safety of our employees remains a top priority.”

Call The Bee’s Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.

Read more articles by Dale Kasler

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