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Tesoro files appeal of record $2.39 million citation

TUMWATER –Tesoro filed its appeal today of the record $2.39 million citation the Department of Labor & Industries issued against the company in the wake of the fatal refinery explosion that killed seven workers.

On Oct. 1, L&I cited Tesoro for 39 “willful” violations and five “serious” violations of state workplace safety and health regulations in connection with the deadly April 2, 2010 explosion at the company’s Anacortes refinery. The accompanying $2.39 million fine is the largest ever issued by L&I.

A willful violation is a category of violation where an employer knowingly violates a rule or is plainly indifferent to it, while a serious violation is one where there is a substantial probability of serious injury or death.

A six-month investigation by L&I determined that the explosion was preventable. A heat exchanger at the petroleum refinery blew apart along cracks in welded areas. Tesoro was required by state law and industry standards to test the equipment for cracks, but L&I inspectors determined the company had failed to do this correctly.

Under state law, employers don’t have to correct hazards identified in a citation during the appeals process.

 “I don’t think anyone is surprised that they would appeal,” said Michael Silverstein, assistant director, Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “We look forward to hearing how the company intends to address the violations we found.”

Businesses have a right to appeal a citation issued by L&I. The first step is often an informal “reassumption” conference where L&I representatives meet with the employer to hear their concerns regarding the citation.

If an employer remains dissatisfied with the results of this process, they can appeal the decision further to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, a separate state agency independent of L&I. Its three-board members are appointed by the Governor’s Office and include a business representative, a labor representative and a public member.

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

Broadcast version: The Tesoro refinery in Anacortes has appealed the citation and record $2.39 million fine issued against the company by the state Department of Labor and Industries two weeks ago. During an appeal, state law does not require employers to correct workplace hazards identified in a citation. The first step in any appeal is often an informal conference between the agency and the employer. If a business remains dissatisfied, they can appeal the decision further to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, an independent agency whose three-member board is appointed by the Governor’s Office.

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