A man died early Wednesday after falling into a vat of oil and grease at a plant near Walt Disney World that recycles the resort’s food waste, authorities said.
The industrial accident occurred shortly after midnight Tuesday at Harvest Power, a Central Florida facility that converts food waste into renewable energy and fertilizers.
There, two men were emptying oil and grease from a semi-truck into a vat when one of the workers — identified as 61-year-old John Korody — slipped on a grate and fell into the vat, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
Korody’s co-worker tried to pull him to safety, but fumes from the oil and grease byproduct overwhelmed both of them, and Korody slipped further into the vat, the sheriff’s office said.
The victim was pronounced dead at the scene, and the Reedy Creek Fire Department helped recover his body, the sheriff’s office said. An investigation is underway.
A Walt Disney World spokeswoman confirmed Korody was not an employee of the company but of Harvest Power.
According to Harvest Power’s website, the company accepts restaurant food scraps, grease trap waste and packaged food waste for recycling at its Bay Lake, Fla., facility, which neighbors Disney’s Lake Buena Vista resorts.
The company describes the Central Florida plant as an “award-winning energy garden” that “uses anaerobic digestion to turn organic waste from the 50 million visitors to Central Florida each year into clean, renewable energy.”
“This was a tragic incident,” said Harvest Power spokeswoman Meredith Sorensen. “We are all deeply saddened by the loss of this co-worker. We are in shock and grief and figuring out what happened.”
Sorensen said the company organized a moment of silence and emphasized safety measures in the wake of the incident. It was also providing grief counselors for the team at the Florida facility, she said.
The death comes little more than a month after a Walt Disney World employee died in an accident in July outside the Pop Century Resort, one of the Disney-owned hotels surrounding the Florida theme park.
That employee, 33-year-old Juan Alberto Ojeda, was killed after a motorized utility cart he had been fixing “jumped a curb, ran into a chain-link fence, then fell on him,” the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Disney officials confirmed the death and mourned in a statement “the loss of one of our Cast Members” but did not immediately respond to questions about the fatal incident.
Keith McMillan contributed to this report.