The Boiler Room Newsletter - A look at boiler operations, maintenance and safety

A message from the Chief

Hello, and thank you for reading The Boiler Room. This newsletter gives me an opportunity to tell you about new developments and accomplishments in the Boiler Program. I hope you enjoy reading it. If there are other topics you'd like to see covered here, send me a note at, and I'll try to include it.

Please recommend The Boiler Room to other boiler professionals. They can sign up here to receive it via e-mail.

Thanks for your interest!

- Linda Williamson, Boiler Chief


Update on the Tesoro Refinery explosion investigation

Since the day after the April 2 Tesoro explosion, our program has been involved in a major national investigation into its cause, which could take up to a year.

Tragically, there are no eye-witnesses to help us understand what may have happened.

National investigation: Also involved in the investigation are L&I's Division of Occupational Safety and Health, the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), and Tesoro's own technical experts. While it's not unusual for these investigations to take many months, we are hoping to have some information to share in the near future.

Our program has jurisdiction over more than 4,000 boilers and pressure vessels operating at five Washington refineries; two located near Ferndale, two near Anacortes and one in Tacoma. The maximum amount of time we permit a pressure vessel to operate between inspections is 26 months; all five refineries have excellent track records for timely and thorough inspections.

While it is critical to perform timely maintenance, inspections, and repairs of pressurized vessels, we must also keep in mind that the most dangerous time to be in a refinery is during the shutdown, maintenance, and startup processes. Temperature and pressurization changes can cause metallurgical changes that can weaken the integrity of these pressure vessels. The use of advanced technology for non-destructive examination can find potential problem areas that can not be located by internal visual inspection.


    Targeting boiler inspections where they are most needed

    Our program has conducted first-time inspections on more than 2,000 pressure vessels since the beginning of 2010. And we are continuing to target locations where large groups of people gather. In fact, about 440 of these inspections were in churches, where most of the hot water heaters we found had never been inspected.

    Of those 440 church water heaters, we found nearly 30% percent of them had problems, some of them serious enough to require immediate shut-downs, such as the absence of a safety valve or safety valves stuck shut. Our inspectors' latest goal is to have a safety "Certificate of Inspection" located next to every regulated boiler, pressure vessel and hot water heater operating in our state. We're also urging citizens and businesses to refer us customers they believe have boilers and pressure vessels needing a proper safety inspection. We follow up and inspect the vessel if needed and do not penalize the owner.


    Othello home damaged by hot water heater explosion

    Here's an example of how an exploding water heater can destroy a home.


WSBIA's Annual Technical Meeting

More than one hundred industry members registered this year for the 2010 Washington State Boiler Inspectors Association (WSBIA) Annual Technical Meeting, which took place April 16, 2010 at the Embassy Suites in Tukwila.

Despite the economic downturn, WSBIA still continues to receive incredible support from the industry, thanks to this year's 19 sponsors and five speakers.

Program topics included: National Board updates, Safety Valves, New Developments in Water Treatment, Silicon Manufacturing, and Boiler Impacts from New Legislation.

All presentations were excellent and resourceful. The Association is doing a terrific job keeping this meeting meaningful.

Many thanks to Association members and officers Suki Otal, Chair; Ed Parry, Vice Chair; and Jim Eaton, Secretary.


Suki Otal, 2010 Chair


Next year's 47th Annual WSBIA meeting will be held on April 14, 2011 at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. The L&I Boiler Program Web site will have more details as they become available.


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Board of Boiler Rules

Our next Board of Boiler Rules Meeting will be held:

September 14 & 15, 2010 at 10 a.m, Room 3
Tacoma Labor & Industries
950 Broadway, Suite 200
Tacoma, WA

Future meetings will be November 16 & 17, 2010. View the agenda and minutes from past meetings.


Washington State Boiler Inspectors Association (WSBIA)

The Washington State Boiler Inspectors Association (WSBIA) holds a lunch meeting on the first working Monday of each month to discuss current topics. The July 12 meeting will be held at:

Goldie's Airport Way
3924 Airport Way S.
Seattle, WA

47th Annual Washington State Boiler Inspectors Association Meeting is April 14, 2011.

To receive an invitation to upcoming events, contact the association at:


As the Department of Labor & Industries Boiler/Pressure Vessel Section, we are working hard to provide you with quality customer service. Sign up for our Listserv and receive safety bulletins and news.


Please see the L&I Boiler Inspector Web page to find the inspector in your area.

For questions about boiler regulations, fees and forms, please contact:

Tony Oda, Technical Specialist
Phone: 360-902-4983

Alicia Curry, Administrative Assistant
Phone: 360-902-5271

Karol Conly, Customer Service Specialist (Supervisor)
Phone: 360-902-5273

Kay Piesch, Customer Service Specialist
Phone: 360-902-5272

Annabel Schmidt, Customer Service Specialist
Phone: 360-902-5267

Department of Labor & Industries
Boiler Program
Phone: 360-902-6400
Fax: 360-902-5292

The Boiler Room is a Web-based newsletter from the Department of Labor & Industries' Boiler Program.

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