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Entries in OSHA (1)

Thursday
Sep222011

SeaWorld Fights Charges after Trainer's Death

Stockbyte/Thinkstock (file photo)(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- SeaWorld Orlando and federal officials are sparring in a Florida courtroom this week over charges that the popular theme park put its employees at risk by allowing them to perform shows in potentially dangerous conditions.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration filed an extensive complaint detailing the allegedly unsafe work environment at SeaWorld and said in court Wednesday that the theme park failed to keep proper documentation of whale behaviors that could endanger trainers.

The complaint comes on the heels of the death of Dawn Brancheau, a trainer who was violently drowned by a killer whale named Tilikum during a live show at the Orlando park in February 2010.

In a copy of the complaint provided to ABC News, OSHA specifically mentions the killer whale.

"At the Shamu Stadium pools animal trainers working with Tilikum, a killer whale with known aggressive tendencies and who was involved in the 1991 death of a whale trainer at a marine park in Vancouver, British Columbia, were exposed to struck-by and drowning hazards in that they were allowed unprotected contact with Tilikum," the complaint states.

SeaWorld vehemently denies the charges that it put its employees at risk.

"These allegations are completely baseless, unsupported by any evidence or precedent, and reflect a fundamental lack of understanding of the safety requirements associated with marine mammal care," wrote SeaWorld in a statement.

SeaWorld is asking that a judge throw out the three federal safety citations, which would not only slam the park with up to $75,000 in fines -- but also threaten its famous shows.

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