Tesoro is the third 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 in 2007 as a result of the 2005 explosion and fire at a BP America’s refinery in Texas City, Texas that killed 15 employees and injured another 170.
L&I cited Tesoro for 17 “serious” safety and health violations, which carry proposed penalties totaling $85,700. 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.
The inspection was conducted over a period of several months by a team of L&I officers who evaluated the systems and interviewed operators, technicians and managers, and reviewed thousands of documents and records.
The inspection cited 150 instances of deficiencies where the company did not:
• Compile accurate and complete process safety information.
• Identify, evaluate and control process hazards, such as an instance where an atmospheric blowdown system was not included in their hazard analysis studies.
• Ensure safe work practices for energy control, inadvertent valve closure and near-miss reporting.
• Update process-safety information when changes were made to technology, equipment, procedures or facilities. Inaccuracies could cause errors or confusion and result in catastrophic events.
The employer has 15 working days to appeal the citation.