State issues fine for February fire at BP refinery

Published on Wed, Sep 5, 2012 by Carissa Wright

Read More News

The state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) cited the BP Cherry Point refinery for six violations stemming from a fire in February, one of which is classified a “willful violation.” The penalties total $81,500. 

A willful violation is the most significant non-criminal citation issued by L&I. It’s used when L&I believes the violation was committed with “intentional disregard or plain indifference to substitution of judgment with respect to worker safety and health regulations.”

The willful violation stems from the maintenance and inspection of the “deadleg” pipe that ruptured, causing the fire. A deadleg pipe is one that is not often used but still must meet basic engineering and inspection standards. 

Hector Castro, a spokesman for L&I, said the refinery wasn’t using recognized and generally accepted best practices for inspecting and monitoring its deadleg pipes. The citation also reports that two of the refinery’s deadleg pipes, one of which caused the fire, were not included in the refinery’s deadleg inspection program.

The fines for willful violations are significantly higher than serious violations. The department decides on the base penalty then multiplies by 10 to determine the exact amount.

“That’s how egregious we feel willful violations are,” Castro said.

BP Cherry Point refinery manager Stacey McDaniel said in a release the refinery “respectfully disagrees” with the findings. If the refinery plans to appeal the citations, it must do so by September 13.