OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Coastal Refining and Marketing, Inc., in Corpus Christi, Texas, with safety and health violations with proposed penalties of $178,000, announced the U.S. Department of Labor.
Coastal Refining and Marketing, Inc., which operates the non-union petroleum refining facility in Corpus Christi with over 360 workers, is a subsidiary of the Coastal Corporation, with headquarters in Houston, Texas and over 13,000 employees.
The citations resulted from an OSHA inspection that began May 13, 1999 following a report of the hospitalization of five Coastal employees and two contractor employees who suffered serious burn injuries. Although the process appeared to be operating normally to workers prior the accident, a pressure vessel had critically thinned over time. The vessel catastrophically failed and split open, allowing sour naphtha and other light hydrocarbons to be released and quickly ignite into a large fire.
OSHA has cited the company with one willful and 18 serious violations.
The one willful violation was for failing to correct equipment deficiencies outside of safe limits as required under OSHA's Process Safety Management (PSM) standard while continuing to operate the process equipment as normal. A willful citation is defined as an intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
The 18 serious violations mostly involve the PSM standard with failure to keep updated piping and instrumentation diagrams, deficiencies in the process hazard analyses, failure to perform timely program audits, deficiencies in the management of change program, failure to conduct investigations over near-miss incidents and for several shortcomings in the mechanical inspection, testing, and quality assurance with process equipment. Also cited were deficiencies in the plant fire water system involved in the emergency response and the employer's flame retardant clothing program.
A serious violation is 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.
In June 1999, OSHA also cited Coastal with $265,000 in penalties for an inspection that began December 14, 1998 at the same refinery when 16 employees were exposed to a release of hydrogen sulfide gas and ten required hospitalization. Coastal has partially contested these citations and paid $44,700 in penalties.
Coastal Refining and Marketing, Inc., has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the area director or to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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