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Region 3 News Release:   III-02-01-14-007-DE/PA
Mon., Jan. 14, 2002
Contact: Leni Uddyback-Fortson
Phone: (215) 861-5102

OSHA Fines Motiva Enterprises, LLC. More Than $250,000 After Fatal July Accident: Lack of Tank Inspections Cited

DELAWARE CITY, Del. - The death of one worker and the injuries suffered by six others in a July 2001 tank explosion at Motiva Enterprises, LLC oil refinery, has led to proposed penalties of $259,000 by the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The company allegedly failed to inspect, repair and provide proper covers for tanks at the oil refinery, which employs more than 660 workers.

OSHA responded immediately to the explosion which occurred while workers were welding and cutting metal above Tank 393 used to store sulfuric acid. The workers were employed by Washington Group International, Cleveland, Ohio, a subcontractor performing maintenance work at the site.

Motiva was cited for three alleged willful violations, with a proposed penalty of $210,000; and seven serious violations, with a penalty of $49,000.

"Motiva failed to internally inspect Tank 393 in a timely manner despite its knowledge that the tank was long overdue for inspection, had a history of leaks and showed signs of deterioration," said Richard D. Soltan, OSHA regional administrator in Philadelphia.

Washington Group International, Inc. was also cited for two serious violations, with proposed penalties totaling $14,000.

Both companies have 15 working days from the receipt of the citations to decide to comply, to request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the Independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

The investigation was conducted by the Wilmington OSHA office, Caleb Boggs Federal Building, 844 N. King Street, Room 2209, Wilmington, De 19801-3319. Phone: (302) 573-6518.

A summary of the alleged violations is attached.

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Three alleged willful violations:

  • Failure to conduct required internal tank inspections - $70,000
  • Failure to repair atmospheric storage tanks when evaluations indicated such repairs were necessary - $70,000
  • Failure to fit openings at the top of the tank with vapor-tight caps or covers. - $70,000

Serious violations:

  • Lack of device needed to relieve excessive internal tank pressure - $7,000
  • Inadequate precautions taken to prevent ignition of flammable vapors - $7,000
  • Guards were not used to contain sparks and/or metal slag when cutting an immovable object. - $7,000
  • Contractors were not advised about flammable materials or hazardous conditions associated with conducting hot work around used sulfuric acid. - $7,000
  • Welding and or cutting was permitted in an area not made fire-safe - $7,000
  • Required information was not recorded - $7,000
  • Employees were not trained on the hazards associated with spent sulfuric acid - $7,000

ALLEGED VIOLATIONS - Washington Group International, LLC

Serious violations:

  • Failure to contain sparks during hot work (welding and cutting). - $7,000
  • Failure to train employees engaged in hazardous waste clean up operations. - $7,000

Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the OSH Act and regulations.

A serious violation involves a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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