California Bumble Bee Tuna Plant Plans to Resume Operations After Worker is Cooked in Steam Oven

A seafood plant in Santa Fe Springs is expected to resume operations today amid a continuing Cal-OSHA investigation into the death of an employee who ended up in an oven.

The Whittier Police Department, which provides law enforcement services in Santa Fe Springs, received a 911 call from Bumble Bee Seafoods at 13100 Arctic Circle around 7 a.m. Thursday regarding an industrial accident involving an employee, police said.

Jose Melena, 62, was pronounced dead at the scene. He had worked there six years, police said.

Erika Monterroza of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health said the initial investigation indicated that Melena was fatally injured when he was cooked in an oven.

The cooking device was described as “steamer machine.” It was unclear how Melena ended up inside the industrial cooker.

Cal-OSHA policy provides for an investigation to be completed within six months. It will include visits to the plant, extensive interviews and a review of company safety documentation.

A finding of violations would result in civil penalties and possible criminal charges.

“The entire Bumble Bee Foods family is saddened by the tragic loss of our colleague, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Melena family,” Pat Menke, Bumble Bee Foods vice president of human resources, said in a statement.

“Operations at Bumble Bee Foods’ Santa Fe Springs processing plant have been suspended since (Thursday) morning to allow for a thorough investigation,” Menke said. “We expect to be able to resume operations on Monday.”

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