Friday, April 2, 2010

Could Refinery Blast Killing 3 Been Avoided?

Well, excuse me, but I am outraged. Reports out of Washington state say three people were killed and four critically burned in an explosion at an oil refinery plant cited with 17 "serious" safety violation last year.

Initial reports did not say whether the Tesoro Corp. corrected the violations at the company's Anacortes plant 70 miles north of Seattle on the Puget Sound. The explosion and fire rocked homes miles away from the plant which refines 120,000 barrels daily of crude oil to gasoline for markets in Washington and Oregon.

The company said the seven employees were performing maintenance on its naphtha unit which is a step in refining crude oil into gasoline and other fuels.

From comes this self-serving understated response from company owners:

"This is a very sad time for our organization," said Bruce Smith, Tesoro president and CEO in a statement. "Everyone in the Tesoro family appreciates the impact that this will have on the families involved, and we are responding quickly to ensure the safety for our employees, contractors and the neighboring community."

A company spokesman said the Washington Department of Labor and Industries had been notified.

On April 15, 2009, a state inspector cited  numerous health and safety problems resulting in the "likelihood of catastrophic events associated with petroleum refinery operations." He cited 17 "serious" violations specically where there is the potential for death or serious physical injury.

Tesoro Refining and Marketing Co. is a Fortune 500 company based in San Antonio and an independent refiner and marketer of petroleum products.



Few oil refineries are being built in the United States because of environmental regulations and those that remain are potentially dangerous and antiquated. The health and safety laws are critical and aimed at preventing disasters such as the Anacortes site. Regulators must have the authority to shut down these plants until the owners comply. That may have occurred here but if not the owners have blood at their doorstep in pursuit of the all mighty dollar. Mark my word, the explosion will translate to a rise of gasoline prices in the Northwest with the motoring public again bearing the burden of the costs because of the shortage. Meanwhile, the cost to Tesoro likely are covered in part by insurance. Collateral damage is unacceptable.

Readers comments are welcome as long as they remain civil. We reserve the right to delete any comments that are vulgar, libelous and totally irrelevant to this posting. -- Jer

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