Local media “Trib Live” reports, “Continuing issues at Jeannette plant highlight gaps in hemp regulation”
Former Quality Control worker says employers denied his request to shut down production to look into issue. COO
Former employees at a Jeannette hemp-drying facility said they worked in unsafe conditions, dealing with thousands of pounds of mold-infested crops.
Richard Wright said employers denied his request to shut down production long enough to address the problem.
“I just don’t want my name associated with making anybody sick,” said Wright, 32, of Webster, who worked in quality control.
Tyler Dickinson, chief operating officer of facility owner Patriot Shield, acknowledged the mold problem but denied its severity.
“Mold is an inevitable quality-control issue when dealing with any agricultural commodity,” he said via email. “Mitigation efforts have always been in place and have been deemed adequate.”
Unsafe working conditions are one of many accusations levied against Patriot Shield, which is under scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Labor, the state Department of Environmental Protection and Jeannette city officials.
Its issues highlight the lack of regulation in Pennsylvania’s nascent hemp industry.
However, he quickly came to believe that Patriot Shield’s leadership had an “utter lack of experience and knowledge of the industry.”
Mold was everywhere, and cross-contamination was common, with various “rooms” in the facility separated only by sheets of black plastic. Employees were given surgical masks, according to Wright.
Cody Kull, former security officer for the facility, said mold was “rampant.”
“I was actually instructed to specifically make sure that only particular people had access to those areas where that defunct product was stored,” said the 30-year-old from Loyalhanna.