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Employer Convicted of Exposing Employees To Cyanide

It's little surprise that 18- to 34-year-olds are at the heart of a nationwide increase in illegal drug use, and the manufacturing industry traditionally draws heavily from this pool of job seekers.

A fertilizer manufacturing company owner has been convicted in U.S. District Court of Idaho for several federal offenses that left a 20-year-old employee with permanent brain damage from exposure to deadly cyanide gas.

Alan Elias, owner and operator of Evergreen Resources of Soda Springs, Idaho, also was convicted of two counts of illegally disposing of hazardous cyanide waste in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and one count of making a false statement to federal officials by falsifying a safety plan. He faces up to 30 years in prison and up to a $1 million fine.

Elias directed his employees to enter a 25,000-gallon storage tank to dispose of cyanide waste from a precious-metal recovery operation during two days in August 1996. However, he didn't implement safety precautions previously discussed with him by OSHA.

Even after some employees complained of poor health symptoms from exposure to cyanide, Elias didn't provide them with required safety equipment available to him at no cost.

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