Omaha, NE – In a 22-count indictment, Nebraska Railcar Cleaning Services and its co-owners have been charged with falsifying OSHA documents and other federal worker safety violations which prosecutors say resulted in the deaths of two men in an April 2015 Omaha confined space accident.
The president of Nebraska Railcar Cleaning Services (NRCS), Stephen Michael Braithwaite, and co-owner Adam Thomas Braithwaite, are charged with submitting false documents to a federal agency and violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Adam Braithwaite also is charged with perjury, according to the federal indictments.
An explosion killed two NRCS workers and injured a third on April 14, 2015 as they were clearing a rail tanker. NRCS tested the rail cars following the explosion and found the contents to be hazardous. U.S. Attorney Joseph Kelly alleges the Braithwaites and NRCS failed to implement worker safety standards, and then tried to cover up those shortfalls following the explosion.
Acting Assistant U.S. Attorney General Wood stated that “protecting the health and safety of American workers at hazardous job sites is of paramount importance…The defendants in this case failed to live up to that responsibility, even falsifying documents to evade worker safety requirements. Tragically, employees at the defendants’ facility lost their lives while working in these unsafe conditions.”
Dallas Foulk and Adrian LaPour died in the 2015 confined space accident.
Aurora LaPoure, Adrian LaPoure’s mother, said her family feels a bit of relief, after hoping for justice all this time: “They violated a lot of codes, they did a lot of wrong and they killed two people,” she said. “I feel a lot of anger because this could have been prevented. Had the company done right and followed safety rules this could have been prevented. [Adrian] would still be here.”
Robert LaPoure, Adrian’s brother, hopes to see Stephen and Adam Braithwaite convicted: “I’m glad that something is finally being done. They’re going to be held accountable and hopefully justice will prevail,” he said.
OSHA regulations require air in confined spaces, like inside rail tankers, be tested for various gases including flammable and explosive fumes. According to the indictment, Stephen Braithwaite turned away federal safety inspectors in March 2015 and created documents to falsely show that NRCS had been purchasing equipment to test rail cars for the presence of benzene. The company was required to do this before sending rail cars to a landfill, but the indictment alleges that NRCS failed to do so.