Santa Fe, California – Bumble Bee Foods and two workers were charged today in the case of a worker cooked to death at Bumble Bee Tuna plant, in pressure cooker used for bulk quantities of tuna. The charge is willfully ignoring safety rules which lead to the death of a worker.
According to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, Saul Florez and Angel Rodriguez (Director Of Plant Operations) have been charged with three felony counts of neglect which led to the death.
According to the county prosecutor, Jose Melena, 62, entered the machine, designed to sterilize cans of tuna in bulk, to make repairs. Other workers loaded several tons of tuna in the machine and not realizing that Melena was inside, closed the door and turned on the oven. With temperatures nearing 300 degrees, Melena was cooked alive inside the machine. His remains were discovered by another worker after the accident occurred.
Bumble Bee Foods expressed disappointment in the charges and made mention that the California Division Of Occupational Safety and Health “found no willful violations related to the accident”.
If convicted, Rodriguez and Florez each face a maximum of three years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. Bumble Bee Foods could face a fine of up to $1,500,000.