Focused Inspections of Petroleum Refineries in Washington Finds Multiple Violations at Shell's Equilon Facility

June 27, 2008
Washington state's Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has cited Shell Oil Co.'s Equilon refinery in Anacortes, Wash., for violations found as a result of a focused inspection aimed at reducing the likelihood of catastrophic events associated with petroleum refinery operations.

Equilon was the first of Washington’s four large refineries to have a comprehensive inspection as part of a federal National Emphasis Program aimed at inspecting all petroleum refineries in the United States. The national program began last year as a result of the 2005 explosion and fire at a BP America refinery in Texas that killed 15 employees and injured another 170.

L&I cited Equilon for 23 “serious” safety and health violations, which carry proposed penalties of $109,600. A “serious” violation is cited when there is the potential for death or serious physical injury from the violation.

The inspections focus on a refinery’s development and implementation of systems designed to reduce or mitigate the potential for catastrophic releases of highly hazardous chemicals. Refineries are required to identify, evaluate and control process hazards; develop and implement mechanical integrity programs; and train operators who must monitor and respond to deviations in the process.

A team of L&I officers went to the refinery 2 days a week for 2 months to conduct the detailed inspection, in addition to reviewing 10,000 pages of documents. The inspection uncovered:

  • Deficiencies in the compilation of process safety information.
  • Failure to identify, evaluate and control process hazards such as those relating to atmospheric releases of highly hazardous chemicals into the work area, potential failure of existing engineering and administrative safety controls and human performance issues during emergencies.
  • Deficiencies with the development and implementation of mechanical integrity programs, such as inspection and testing of safety systems and other control devices designed to prevent or mitigate catastrophic events.
    Inadequate training programs to ensure operators understand and respond appropriately to process upsets and other emergency operating conditions.
  • Failure to evaluate changes to process equipment and ensure safety reviews are completed prior to placing equipment back into service.
  • Controlling activities in covered process areas.

The employer has 15 working days to appeal the citation.

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.

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!