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OSHA Hits Montana Refinery with Willful Violation After Arc Explosion

Aug. 9, 2013
Management at the refinery modified equipment, creating an unsafe environment for employees.

OSHA has cited Calumet Montana Refining LLC for three violations – including one willful – based on the results of a February inspection following an arc explosion at the company's asphalt mill.

"[Calumet] modified high-voltage electrical equipment to keep the asphalt mill operating, despite the safety concerns this modification presented to employees," Jeff Funke, the agency's area director in Billings, said in a news release.

OSHA cited the company for one willful, one serious and one other-than-serious violation. The three citations carry a total of $77,000 in proposed fines.

An arc explosion occurred at the company's asphalt mill on Feb. 11.

The willful violation stems from "exposing workers to the arc-flash and explosion hazards associated with bypassing a motor-circuit protector switch," the agency said.  

OSHA cited the company for a serious violation due to "unused safety signs, symbols and accident-prevention tags that are necessary to warn workers about electrical hazards."

The other-than-serious citation was for failing to post the voltage, current, wattage and other necessary ratings on electrical switches and panel boards, OSHA said.

Calumet Montana Refining "is one of the last small independent refineries in the U.S., producing approximately 10,000 barrels per day of various petroleum products," according to the company's website.

Attempts to reach a company spokesman for comment were unsuccessful.

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