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Citgo Refining and Chemicals Co. LP is facing $66,500 in fines for five safety violations, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA opened an inspection at the company’s Corpus Christi, TX, facility after getting a complaint employees suffered from exposure to a leak of hydrofluoric acid at a flange in the alkylation unit while performing maintenance work.

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“This employer did not have proper safeguards in place to protect employees from the release of toxic chemicals,” said Michael Rivera, OSHA’s area director in Corpus Christi. “By not following OSHA’s standard for process safety management, employees at the facility and the surrounding community were placed in danger.”

Process safety management involves a detailed set of requirements and procedures employers follow to proactively address hazards associated with processes and equipment that involve large amounts of hazardous chemicals.

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OSHA’s Corpus Christi Area Office identified four serious violations related to the company’s process safety management program, including failing to properly record process safety information, ensure process hazard analysis is accurate, ensure equipment complies with the required engineering practices, secure operating procedure certification and provide a satisfactory relief valve design. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

One repeat violation is failing to follow modification procedures in the alkylation unit. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously faced issues for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. They had a similar violation in January 2010.

The Tulsa, OK-based company is a subsidiary of Houston-based CITGO Petroleum Corp., and employs about 3,500 workers nationwide with 550 in Corpus Christi.

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