AUGUSTA, Ga. — A Georgia sperm bank faces state citations after a sheriff’s deputy trying to save an employee died from inhaling liquid nitrogen.
WRBL sister station WRDW reports the Georgia Department of Insurance issued two cease and desist orders against the Xytex sperm bank in Augusta and its supplier, AirGas Inc., connected to the liquid nitrogen tank leak that killed 57-year-old Richmond County Sheriff’s Sgt. Greg Meagher.
The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office says Meagher died Sunday when he went in to rescue an employee who was trying to shut off a leak.
The employee was listed in critical condition Wednesday. Three other deputies were also injured, but they’re expected to recover.
Xytex and Airgas received the first citation Tuesday after an investigation into the tank with the deadly leak revealed it was not up to date on its yearly inspections. Deputy State Fire Marshal Chris Stephens says he returned the very next day to cite the companies for a second tank in the clinic that was being operated without a permit.
Xytex is being cited for using the tanks improperly, Airgas provides the tanks and it is responsible for obtaining permits for each one.
Stephens adds Xytex originally told investigators the second tank was not in use, but when he went back for an inspection Wednesday, he found they had been in use without any type pf permit.
“Even if it was a new tank installed. It would have still required an inspection, and we have found no records to indicate that tank has been inspected,” Stephens says.
The fire marshal says the two tanks have been shut down until future inspection, but the frozen human tissue remains inside the Xytex tanks.
Xytex assures clients in a statement Wednesday that all tissue is still safely stored.
“All privately stored tissue is safe, and our storage facilities are fully operational.
We are confident in the continued quality, and future disposition, of all client samples. We assure clients the same high quality they have come to expect, and continue to maintain stored tissue cells at temperatures required to meet industry quality standards. We will continue to safely and effectively monitor all storage, and assist our clients in their fertility journey.
While the State Fire Marshal has issued a cessation order on one piece of equipment, Xytex’s storage capabilities are fully functional and we will continue to cooperate in the ongoing investigation. “
-Xytex Sperm Bank
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the incident.