Oil and Refining Company Fined $83,185 by Cal/OSHA

A Jan. 19 explosion near Bakersfield, Calif., has sparked fines and citations for a refining company.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has issued 11 citations totaling $83,185 in fines to Kern Oil and Refining Co. following a Jan. 19 explosion that resulted in one fatality and two injuries.

Of the 11 citations, 10 were considered serious and one was general.

"As a result of our investigation, inspectors determined that Kern Oil failed to have proper procedures in place and training was not provided for employees working with a dangerous piece of equipment," said Cal/OSHA Acting Chief Len Welsh. "If standard practices had been followed this catastrophic event might not have occurred."

The largest of the penalties was $18,000 for a serious accident-related violation of Cal/OSHA regulations addressing operating procedures. The investigation revealed that the employer allegedly failed to develop and implement temporary operation procedures for removing filter screens and steaming out the crude unit's prefractionator bottoms pump, according to the agency.

A temporary operating procedure is required to address an explosion hazard such as water condensing inside the flexible steam line and being introduced into the pump containing hot crude oil.

A serious citation is issued by Cal/OSHA when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a condition that exists or from practices, operations or processes at the workplace.

An agency spokesperson said Kern Oil and Refining is appealing the citations.

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