Chevron’s Pascagoula Refinery failed to develop procedures for restarting a unit after an emergency shutdown and was using the same procedure it used for normal startup and that was one of the factors behind an explosion last November that left one worker dead, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
As a result the Pascagoula, MS-based refinery is facing $24,000 in fines for safety violations for that Nov. 15 explosion, OSHA said.
Chevron has until May 2 to respond, according to OSHA, and until May 13 and June 4 to fix the problems.
The explosion and fire occurred in a furnace in the Cracking II unit during the early morning hours. Tonya Graddy, 49, of Semmes, AL, who was standing outside the furnace suffered fatal injuries in the blast. The explosion sent up a huge plume of smoke, rattled windows and doors in east Pascagoula and created a concussion felt across town.
In the citation, ranked serious because someone died, OSHA said the refinery did fail to develop procedures for restarting a unit after an emergency shutdown and was using the same procedure it used for normal startup. It also said before the Nov. 15 explosion, workers did not purge the firebox before lighting burners at the plant.
It said Chevron failed to document whether employees understood training they received on how to operate a process.
After a February 2011 incident, Chevron proposed training to insure adequate warning of hazardous conditions, plus operator training on the importance of oxygen, carbon monoxide and combustibles alarms, OSHA said.
“Chevron did not ensure that employees understood the training,” OSHA said.
The company “did not develop and implement safe work practices” to control hazards during operations such as lock out, entry to confined spaces or opening process equipment. And OSHA cited the refinery for failing to control access to the area by maintenance, contractors and support crews.
The refinery issued a statement saying it received OSHA’s citation and said it was evaluating the findings, after cooperating fully with OSHA’s investigation.
“Chevron is committed to fully understanding what led to the tragic loss of one of our colleagues at the Pascagoula refinery on Nov. 15,” it said. “Chevron conducted an internal investigation and we anticipate a final report in May.”