Wyoming OSHA proposes $210,000 in fines for Sinclair Refinery

By: KGWN
By: KGWN

Sinclair, WY (KGWN) - The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services (DWS) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Salt Lake City-based Sinclair Oil for seven violations stemming from a September 2013 incident at the Sinclair Refinery in Sinclair, Wyoming.

An OSHA inspection following the September 27, 2013 explosion and subsequent fire resulted in seven citations and proposed penalties totaling $201,000. No injuries occurred as a result of the incident.

“The OSHA investigation revealed a variety of violations present that could have been prevented if the required internal inspections had been conducted and the necessary safety procedures had been followed,” said Director of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services Joan Evans. “Every employer has a duty to ensure a healthy and safe working environment. Sinclair has several health and safety related projects and improvements in process. We look forward to the long-term resolution of these issues.”

Monetary penalties go entirely to the local school district where the violations occurred.

The OSHA investigation found that an explosion and subsequent fire occurred at Sinclair Refinery’s #4 Hydro-Desulphurization (4HDS) Unit within the Hydrocracker Complex on Friday, September 27, 2013, at 10:10 p.m. Hydrogen embrittlement of a carbon steel control valve in the 4HDS Unit caused a leak of hydrogen which ignited. Hydrogen embrittlement is the process by which various metals become fatigued, brittle and fracture following exposure to hydrogen. The source of ignition is unknown. As a result, the control valve had deteriorated from the inside-out and caused the leak and subsequent explosion.

The following citations were issued by OSHA as a result of the September 27 incident:

Willful Violations

During the inspection, OSHA found conditions that merit two willful violations. A willful violation is defined as a situation in which the employer either knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement (purposeful disregard) or acted with plain indifference to employee safety. Violations in the willful category total $140,000 in fines. The inspection found:

· Citation 2-1: Adequate quality assurance review, which helps ensure the proper use of materials in construction and appropriate installation procedures, had not been performed for the flow control valve assembly. The valve was found to be carbon steel and was not suitable for the 4HDS unit.

· Citation 2-2: Required inspection and testing of a corrosion-prone piping loop within the 4HDS unit had not been adequately performed. Repeat citation.

Repeat Serious Violations

The inspection found a condition that merits one repeat serious violation. A repeat serious violation exists when the workplace hazard has been cited previously for the same or a substantially similar condition and could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm. This violation carries a $35,000 fine.

· Citation 3-1: A process hazard analysis, a careful review of what could go wrong and what safeguards must be implemented to prevent releases of hazardous chemicals, had not been performed to specifically address the consequences of failure of engineering and administrative controls within the required time period on the 4HDS Unit.

Serious Violations

The inspection found conditions that merit four serious violations. A serious violation could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm. Violations in the serious category total $26,000 in fines.

· Citation 1-1: Adequate emergency response radio communication protocols were not properly in place at the time of the incident.

· Citation 4-1: A process hazard analysis, a careful review of what could go wrong and what safeguards must be implemented to prevent releases of hazardous chemicals, had not been performed to specifically address the hazards present in the 4HDS process within the required time period.

· Citation 4-2: A pre-start up safety review, a full evaluation of initial start up procedures and normal operating procedures to ensure a safe transfer into the normal operating mode, was not adequately performed within the required time period.

· Citation 4-3: Initial air quality monitoring was not conducted immediately following the explosion.

Previous citations issued by Wyoming OSHA can be found on the establishment search page on the U.S. Department of Labor OSHA website.

Pursuant to federal law, Sinclair Refinery has 15 days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Commission.


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