Refinery Agrees to Reduced OSHA Fine

March 6, 2003
Motiva Enterprises, Delaware City, Del., and OSHA have reached an agreement settlement agreement for occupational safety violations the agency issued in January 2002 following the investigation of a fatal explosion and fire. Originally, OSHA proposed fines of $259,000, but Motiva will pay $175,000.

Jeff Davis was killed and six other employees injured in a July 2001 tank explosion at Motiva's Delaware City refinery. OSHA responded immediately to the explosion, which occurred while workers were welding and cutting metal above a 415,000-gallon tank used to store sulfuric acid. The workers were employed by Washington Group International, Cleveland, a subcontractor performing maintenance work at the site. Davis' body was never found.

OSHA cited Motiva for three alleged willful and seven alleged serious violations, claiming the company allegedly failed to inspect, repair and provide proper covers for tanks at the oil refinery, noting the tank "was long overdue for inspection, had a history of leaks and showed signs of deterioration." Washington Group was cited for two alleged serious violations, with penalties totaling $14,000.

In the settlement, in which Motiva admitted no wrongdoing, the violations were reduced to two citations and were not classified as "willful" or "serious."

"The settlement was mutually agreeable to all the parties involved," said Motiva spokesman Spiros Mantzavinos.

Motiva's troubles are not over with the settlement, however. Davis' family filed a federal wrongful-death lawsuit, which is still pending, and EPA and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control filed a $50 million lawsuit. Plus, the state attorney general indicated that criminal charges might be filed in conjunction with Davis' death.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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