BP cited for serious safety violations

Published on Thu, Jun 3, 2010
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The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) cited local petroleum refinery BP Cherry Point on April 30 for 13 serious safety violations discovered during an inspection that began in November. The citations carry a combined fine of $69,200.

The refinery, near Blaine, is the largest petroleum refinery in Washington, processing 225,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

The inspection focused on the hydrocracker process unit, the refinery’s largest process unit, which refines low-grade oil into gasoline. Twelve of the violations involve regulations governing the management of highly hazardous chemicals, which are part of what is commonly referred to as the Process Safety Management Standard. One of the violations involves a failure to provide proper machine guarding.

The 12 process safety management problems included failure to routinely inspect or maintain safety control devices, such as pressure safety valves; inaccurate or outdated instrument diagrams; and failure to record whether identified safety hazards were corrected. One violation noted that there were 38 instances of safety recommendations for which there was no record they were ever implemented.

“The safety violations our inspectors uncovered at BP were problems similar to those we’ve uncovered in all of the refineries we have inspected in Washington,” said Michael Silverstein, assistant director for L&I’s division of occupational safety and health. “Petroleum refineries are inherently risky work environments, and following the safety regulations is the key to preventing explosions and other life-threatening events.”
Officials say BP will not appeal the fines and has agreed to correct the hazards. 

The inspection was part of a program begun in 2007 by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.