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Calling the administrative law judge’s (ALJ) ruling “illogical,” SeaWorld Orlando has appealed a decision that bars trainers from being in the water with killer whales during performances.
The ALJ’s ruling last month required the trainers to stay out of the water during whale performances or to be behind a barrier, separating them from the marine animals. However, trainers can still be in the water with the whales outside of the shows for such purposes as attending to the whales’ medical needs.
In its appeal to the entire Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC), SeaWorld stated, “In essence, the Judge concluded that having close contact with killer whales is a recognized hazard, but only if that contact occurs during the performance of a show.”
The OSHRC can decide not to hear an appeal of the ALJ’s decision. If that’s the case, the judge’s decision will become final on July 16.
“Never before has a hazard been identified as such in one setting and then determined to be an acceptable activity in another setting,” SeaWorld said in its appeal.
The marine park faces $12,000 in OSHA fines in connection with an inspection after trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed when she was pulled underwater by killer whale Tilikum.
Originally, OSHA had issued $75,000 in fines to SeaWorld, but the ALJ reduced the severity of one of the fines from willful to serious.
Do you think it makes sense for trainers to be banned from being in the water with the killer whales during performances but not at other times? Is there a more logical solution to this case? Let us know what you think in the comments below.