Recycling center where worker’s partial remains found had serious past safety violations

Citations included failure to provide fall protection for shredder
Alex Burrell-Gordon's blood was found on a shredding machine at the recycling plant where he worked.
Published: Jul. 13, 2022 at 12:55 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 14, 2022 at 10:59 AM EDT
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - An Upstate recycling center where partial remains of a missing man were found had previous safety violations, according to the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (SCLLR).

Duncan “Alex” Burrell-Gordon went missing on May 5 from his work, Industrial Recovery and Recycling in Greer.

After months of investigation, the Spartanburg County Coroner’s Office confirmed blood and other remains from Burrell-Gordon were found on a shredding machine at the plant.

Burrell-Gordon’s father, Michael Gordon, has filed a worker’s compensation claim, saying he believes his son died after falling into the plastics shredding machine. Both were working at Industrial Recovery and Recycling on the night of the disappearance.

The coroner said they are not able to issue a conventional death certificate for Burrell-Gordon since his body has not been found, but officials are working with the family on the process for closure.

FOX Carolina News filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the SCLLR for documents related to the investigation into Burrell-Gordon’s death at the plant, but the request was denied since the investigation is active and ongoing. More documents will be released when the investigation is complete.

However, the SCLLR released documentation from two prior inspections in 2012 and 2017 that led to citations against Industrial Recovery and Recycling.

In 2012, the business was issued citations for four serious violations and three other violations, resulting in thousands of dollars in fines.

According to the inspection file, the business failed to evaluate if any areas were permit-required confined spaces, including a densifier which employees had to enter to change the blades.

In 2017, the business was issued a citation for another serious violation - failure to provide fall protection for an industrial shredder. The inspection file says, “Most reasonably predictable injury or illness: Death.”

The file says employees worked 11 feet above the cutting rotor for a shredder and were not protected by a guardrail, safety net, or restraint system.

According to the documents, the violation was corrected during the inspection but a $500 penalty was issued.

FOX Carolina News has reached out to Industrial Recovery and Recycling, but the business declined to comment and said all information regarding the case would need to come from law enforcement.

Michael Gordon no longer works at the plant.