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May 28, 2010

L&I: BP Cherry Point will not appeal citation and fine at refinery near Blaine

TUMWATER – The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) today confirmed that the BP Cherry Point petroleum refinery will not appeal a citation issued earlier this month against the company for 13 serious safety violations carrying a fine of $69,200.

BP has agreed to pay the fine and correct the hazards found by L&I during an inspection at the refinery in November. 

“I am pleased that BP has decided to move forward on correcting these problems,” said Michael Silverstein, assistant director for L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “Appeals can take years to resolve and, under current state law, there are no requirements to abate hazards during the appeal process. BP has chosen, instead, to focus on improving safety at its worksite.”

L&I has now inspected all five refineries in the state. The work was part of the agency’s participation in the National Emphasis Program instituted by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration in order to have all of the nation’s refineries inspected. The program began after several deadly events at refineries across the country.

In Washington state, L&I continues to investigate an explosion at the Tesoro petroleum refinery in Anacortes, which killed seven workers. It was the deadliest industrial accident in the state since 1998, when six refinery workers were killed at the Equilon refinery, also in Anacortes.

“While it is good that BP has decided to correct the hazards without an appeal, we are disturbed that more than 10 years after the explosion that killed six workers at the Equilon refinery, our inspectors are still finding significant safety violations every time we inspect one of the refineries in the state of Washington,” Silverstein said.

The L&I inspection at BP Cherry Point focused on the refinery’s enormous hydrocracker process unit, which refines low-grade oil into gasoline. Twelve of the serious violations involving 160 instances were violations of regulations governing the management of highly hazardous chemicals, which are part of what is commonly referred to as the Process Safety Management Standard.

The 13th violation involved two instances of a failure to provide proper machine guarding, though those problems were corrected before the citation was issued.

Among the 160 process safety management problems discovered, BP was cited for failure to routinely inspect or maintain safety control devices, such as pressure safety valves; inaccurate or outdated instrument diagrams; and failure to record whether identified safety hazards were corrected.

BP officials have agreed to correct all the problems identified by inspectors, although the complexity of the refinery operation means that for some of the issues, BP will have until Aug. 1 to comply or must submit alternative plans to mitigate hazards that will require more time. Several corrections have already been made. L&I inspectors will follow up to confirm that all the hazards are corrected.

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For media information: Hector Castro, L&I, 360-902-6043.

Broadcast version: The Department of Labor and Industries announced that the BP refinery at Cherry Point will not appeal a citation for 13 serious safety violations discovered during an inspection of the plant that began last November. The citations, announced in early May, carried a fine of $69,200, which BP has said it will pay. Of the violations, 12 involve state safety regulations that govern any production process using highly hazardous chemicals. The problems include outdated instrument diagrams and safety devices that were not being routinely inspected or maintained. BP has already begun working to fix the hazards. More information on this inspection, and updates on the investigation into the deadly Tesoro refinery explosion of April 2, can be found at Lni dot wa dot gov.

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