Tosco settles lawsuits related to refinery explosion

Tosco Corp. on Friday said it will pay $21million to settle wrongful death suits filed by the families of three workers killed last year in an explosion at its Avon refinery at Martinez, Calif. The three men worked for an outside company that was working for Tosco under contract.


Tosco Corp. on Friday said it will pay $21million to settle wrongful death suits filed by the families of three workers killed last year in an explosion at its Avon refinery at Martinez, Calif.

The three men worked for an outside company that was working for Tosco under contract. The families of Rollin Blue and Tom Rodacker, who left children, will receive $9 million each, while the family of Ric Enriquez, who left no children, will receive $3 million.

The family of a fourth worker also killed has a separate suit pending. Two workers who survived the explosion also have filed suit against Tosco.

An exploding ball of flammable liquid engulfed the men as they worked on a clogged pipe that ran next to a hot tower. State and county investigators blame Tosco for not monitoring the pipe repair job more closely and for not knowing the workers were in jeopardy.

Tosco pleaded no contest earlier this year to five misdemeanor offenses of exposing the workers to danger leading to death or injury. The company paid a $954,000 fine and contributed $1 million to a county health clinic in nearby Pittburg, Calif.

The California Division of Occupational Health and Safety fined Tosco $810,000 for 33 violations, 16 of them "willful." Tosco has appealed.

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