UPDATE: Injured plant worker transported to Minnesota - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Injured plant worker transported to Minnesota


One man has died after an industrial accident at a plant in Lincoln County, and another man has been transported to a hospital in Minnesota.

According to the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department, Dennis Jay Gougeon, 47, of Ontonagon, Michigan died after being burned by fly ash.

The incident happened just before 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday at Packaging Corporation of America near Tomahawk. Officials say Gougeon and Dustin Dean Hale, 29, also of Ontonagon, were burned by fly ash, a product typically produced during the burning of coal.

Ron Zimmerman, human resources manager at PCA, said the two were cleaning an ash system at the time of the incident. 

According to Zimmerman, the two men were contractors from a company called Inland Systems. The company specializes in industrial cleaning. Zimmerman said PCA uses Inland Systems "all the time" for its services. 

Hale is the son of the owner of Inland Systems, Zimmerman said. 

The extent of Hale's injuries are unknown. He was originally flown to the burn center at UW Madison, but Zimmerman said Hale was moved to a hospital in the Twin Cities area Wednesday morning. 

OSHA officials told Newsline 9 they planned to send someone to determine if an investigation is necessary. 

"Our employee will talk with workers and determine if there were any health or safety violations the contributed to the accident," OSHA spokesperson Rhonda Burke said.

Zimmerman confirmed one OSHA investigator was on scene at the plant Wednesday afternoon. He also said two executives from Inland Systems were on scene including the owner, Hale's father.

As far as business at PCA, Zimmerman said things were as "normal as they can be." But he said the incident is "on people's minds and they're very concerned."

PCA makes packaging. This is not the first time there has been an incident at that location. In July 2008, a recycled fiber storage tank exploded, killing three employees and injuring a fourth.

According to OSHA records, the company was cited with six safety violations and had to pay a fine of more than $22,000.

Rhonda Burke, OSHA's spokesperson, said the investigator on scene will be looking for any health and safety violations that may have contributed to the incident. She said it would likely take at least several weeks to complete the investigation as it involves both PCA and Inland Systems. 

Burke wouldn't comment on any specifics of the investigation. 

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Department is also conducting their own investigation into what happened. The department is referring all requests for comment to PCA. 

Stay tuned to Newsline 9 for updates. 

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