Region 6 News Release: USDL-OSHA-01-55-5-30
Wed., May 30, 2001
Contact: Diana Petterson or Elizabeth Todd
Phone: (214) 767-4776, ext. 222 or 221
OSHA CITES VALERO REFINING COMPANY IN CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS, FOR NINE ALLEGED SAFETY VIOLATIONS AND PROPOSES $138,000 IN PENALTIES
DALLAS - The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Valero Refining Co., in Corpus Christi, Texas with nine alleged safety violations and proposed penalties totaling $138,000.
Valero Refining operates a mid-sized refinery that specializes in sour crude feedstock and employs about 490 workers in Corpus Christi and 2,800 employees nationwide. The company headquarters is in San Antonio, Texas.
The alleged safety violations were discovered during an OSHA inspection that began Nov. 29, 2000 when two contract employees with Berry Contracting, Co. in Corpus Christi, doing business as Bay Ltd., had been exposed to hydrogen sulfide (H2S). One of the employees died a few days after the exposure. The company was cited for one willful, seven serious and one repeat violations. (Berry Contracting was cited with six alleged safety violations and proposed penalties totaling $94,500.)
The one willful violation was for failing to provide adequate personal detection/monitoring equipment for employees working with a possible H2S exposure. H2S paralyzes a person's ability to breath and depending on the amount of exposure, a person can be instantly asphyxiated. A willful violation is defined as one that is committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
The seven serious violations include lack of fall protection, defective process hazard analyses and deficiencies in the lockout/tagout program. Lockout/tagout refers to labeling and shutting down an energy source in an appropriate manner. A serious violation is defined as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
The one repeat violations was for exceeding peak concentrations and not providing respiratory protection for H2S exposures.
Employers or workers who have questions concerning safety and health may contact the OSHA Corpus Christi area office at (361) 888-3420. Or, call OSHA's toll-free hotline number at 1-800-321-6742 to report workplace accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers.
Valero Refining has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to either comply, request an informal conference with the Corpus Christi OSHA area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.