OSHA cites BP for alleged violations at Toledo refinery

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed more than $3 million in fines as it cited a BP North America Inc. and BP-Husky Refining LLC refinery near Toledo, Ohio, on Mar. 8 for 42 alleged willful violations of federal workplace regulations.

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 8 -- The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed more than $3 million in fines as it cited a BP North America Inc. and BP-Husky Refining LLC refinery near Toledo, Ohio, on Mar. 8 for 42 alleged willful violations of federal workplace regulations.

The allegations include 20 serious violations for allegedly exposing workers to hazards including failure to provide adequate pressure relief for process units, the US Department of Labor agency said. The refinery at Oregon, Ohio, has a 125,600 b/d operable capacity, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

The plant is jointly owned and operated by BP America and Husky Energy Inc. of Canada. OSHA said that it has inspected the installation 12 times since 1991.

A BP spokeswoman said the company was still evaluating the citations and could comment on the details. “We are disappointed that OSHA has chosen to characterize the majority of the audit findings as willful,” she said, adding, “We will continue to work closely with our local OSHA representatives and look forward to further cooperation with the agency.”

OSHA said its allegations stemmed from an inspection it began of the refinery in September 2009, and as a follow-up to a 2006 inspection and a 2007 settlement between the agency and the refinery. It said that while the latest inspection found that BP had complied with the settlement agreement, OSHA found numerous violations at the plant that the agreement had not covered previously.

Potential hazards
“The inspection revealed that workers were exposed to serious injury and death in the event of a release of flammable and explosive materials in the refinery because of numerous conditions constituting violations of OSHA’s process safety management standard,” it said in a statement.

In addition to failing to provide adequate pressure relief, OSHA said the alleged willful violations included failing to prevent hazardous accumulation of fuel in process heaters and exposing workers to injury or death from collapse of or damage to nine buildings in the refinery in the event of a fire. OSHA proposed penalties totaling $2.94 million for these citations, it said.

The 20 serious citations, which carry $102,000 in proposed penalties, involve other failures to follow OSHA’s process safety management standard including not supporting pipes properly, maintaining heat transfer information for refractory-lined vessels, and investigating contamination of the fire-water system, the agency said.

OSHA said the company has 15 business days to comply, to request an information conference with OSHA’s area director, or to contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

In her response, BP’s spokeswoman said the refinery’s 2009 rate of recordable injuries was more than 25% lower than the refining industry’s average. “In addition, the Toledo refinery has made steady, measurable improvement in matters of process safety. We continually assess our safety programs and address potential issues as part of our continuous improvement effort,” she said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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