US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Citgo Refining and Chemicals
for exposing workers to hazardous materials in Corpus Christi, Texas
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Citgo Refining and Chemicals Co. LP has been cited for five safety violations by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA opened an inspection at the company's Corpus Christi facility upon receiving a complaint that employees had been exposed to a leak of hydrofluoric acid at a flange in the alkylation unit while performing maintenance work. Proposed penalties total $66,500.
"This employer did not have proper safeguards in place to protect employees from the release of toxic chemicals," said Michael Rivera, OSHA's area director in Corpus Christi. "By not following OSHA's standard for process safety management, employees at the facility and the surrounding community were placed in danger."
Process safety management involves a detailed set of requirements and procedures employers follow to proactively address hazards associated with processes and equipment that involve large amounts of hazardous chemicals. More information on OSHA's standard is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/processsafetymanagement/index.html.
OSHA's Corpus Christi Area Office identified four serious violations related to the company's process safety management program, including failing to properly record process safety information, ensure that the process hazard analysis is accurate, ensure that equipment complies with the required engineering practices, secure operating procedure certification and provide a satisfactory relief valve design. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
One repeat violation is failing to follow modification procedures in the alkylation unit. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. A similar violation was cited in January 2010.
The Tulsa, Okla.-based company is a subsidiary of Houston-based CITGO Petroleum Corp., and employs about 3,500 workers nationwide with 550 in Corpus Christi. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Corpus Christi area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Corpus Christi office at 361-888-3420.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.