SeaWorld Fined in Whale Trainer's Death

Federal authorities have fined SeaWorld Orlando $75,000 for three violations stemming from the death of a trainer who was attacked by a 12,000-pound killer whale earlier this year.

The most serious violation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was characterized as "willful," in terms of the park's exposing workers to drowning hazards when interacting with killer whales. That citation carries a $70,000 fine.

OSHA began its investigation of SeaWorld following the death in February of trainer Dawn Brancheau, 40, who was grabbed by her hair by the whale, Tilikum, and dragged underwater.

The agency proposes not allowing trainers to have physical contact with Tilikum unless there's a barrier for protection.

The agency further recommends that trainers not play with the park's other killer whales, in or out of the water, unless protected by a barrier or deck.

SeaWorld spokesman Fred Jacobs calls the OSHA findings "unfounded," and says the park will contest the citation.

The other two violations were for failing to have a stairway railing system and weather-protected electrical receptacles in Shamu Stadium, where the accident occurred.

Photo, Milan boers, flickr
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