Avondale Mills Announces Layoffs

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October 4, 2005
There’s more bad new for Graniteville as Avondale Mills announces it’s laying off 350 workers. The company says it’s a direct result of the train wreck and chlorine spill last January. But it’s mixed with some good news on the health front. News 12 is on your side with the lingering effects of chlorine.

Avondale Mills is right along the train tracks in Graniteville. And most of the equipment there suffered serious damage the morning of the crash.

“This is absolutely nothing we wanted to do but we were forced to do because there was no other choice after the train derailment,” said Stephen Felker, Jr.

Stephen Felker, Jr., speaking on behalf of Avondale Mills on one of its darkest days. Effective immediately, they’re laying off 350 workers, fifteen percent of its local work force. Felker says the layoffs are required because of damage to equipment after January’s train wreck and chlorine spill. Avondale Mills has now filed a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern.

“It alleges there was wrongful conduct and negligence on behalf of Norfolk Southern. And we’re seeking compensatory and punitive damages,” Felker said.

The news traveled fast in town. Harold Campbell says he was laid off by Avondale Mills just two months before the train wreck.

“I figured it was coming, just a matter of time with Avondale,” Campbell said.

Meanwhile, there is some good news for folks in town. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environment Control presented results from air, water and soil tests taken at 55 different sites.

“We found no residual chlorine from the accident. We found nothing in the air or water beyond what you would normally expect to find in the environment,” said Thom Berry.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, they passed out these fact sheets. In bold on the air sampling sheet, chlorine is not affecting the air quality in Graniteville, the air is safe to breathe.