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May 5, 2010

L&I completes inspections of state petroleum refineries, cites BP Cherry Point for 13 serious safety violations

TUMWATER – The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) today announced it has cited the petroleum refinery BP Cherry Point for 13 serious safety violations discovered during an inspection that began in November. The citations carry a combined fine of $69,200.

BP Cherry Point, near Blaine, is the largest petroleum refinery in Washington, processing 225,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

The inspection focused on the hydrocracker process unit, the refinery’s largest process unit, which refines low-grade oil into gasoline. Twelve of the violations involve regulations governing the management of highly hazardous chemicals, which are part of what is commonly referred to as the Process Safety Management Standard. One of the violations involves a failure to provide proper machine guarding.

The 12 process safety management problems included failure to routinely inspect or maintain safety control devices, such as pressure safety valves; inaccurate or outdated instrument diagrams; and failure to record whether identified safety hazards were corrected. One violation noted that there were 38 instances of safety recommendations for which there was no record they were ever implemented.

“The safety violations our inspectors uncovered at BP were problems similar to those we’ve uncovered in all of the refineries we have inspected in Washington,” said Michael Silverstein, assistant director for L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “Petroleum refineries are inherently risky work environments, and following the safety regulations is the key to preventing explosions and other life-threatening events.”

The inspection was part of a program begun in 2007 by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to inspect the nation’s petroleum refineries. The National Emphasis Program followed several events in the refinery industry, including the 2005 explosion at a BP America refinery in Texas that killed 15 people and injured 170 others.

L&I has now inspected all five refineries in the state:

  • U.S. Oil and Refinery in Tacoma.
  • Shell Oil Equilon in Anacortes.
  • Tesoro in Anacortes.
  • Conoco Phillips in Ferndale, which volunteered to be inspected prior to the start of the National Emphasis Program.
  • BP Cherry Point near Blaine.

The Tesoro refinery in Anacortes experienced an explosion April 2 that ultimately killed seven workers. L&I is continuing to investigate that incident.

BP has 15 days from the date it received the citation to file an appeal.

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For media information: Hector Castro, L&I, 360-902-6043.

Broadcast version: The Department of Labor and Industries has fined the BP refinery at Cherry Point $69,200 for 13 safety violations discovered during an inspection of the plant that began last November. Of the violations, 12 involve state safety regulations that govern any production process that uses highly hazardous chemicals. Problems include outdated instrument diagrams and safety devices that were not being routinely inspected or maintained. The inspection is the last to be done under a national emphasis focusing on petroleum refineries. BP has 15 days to appeal. More information on this inspection, and updates on the investigation into the deadly Tesoro refinery explosion of April 2, can be found at Lni dot wa dot gov.

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