Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

April 2, 2013

Refinery responds to findings

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — Officials with a refinery in Wynnewood believe its findings are consistent with those from a federal investigation into a boiler explosion that killed two employees last fall.

The explosion on Sept. 28, 2012 resulted in the death of 34-year-old Billy Smith of Pauls Valley and critically injured Russell Mann, 45, of Davis, who later died.

It occurred as operators were restarting a boiler that had been temporarily shut down as part of the refinery’s turnaround process.

A statement released by the Wynnewood Refining Company is in response to the findings of an investigation conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The refinery was issued six citations; four of which are classified as serious and two are classified as other than serious.

Three citations were related to the Wickes boiler incident and three were related to the general investigation.

“The company is currently reviewing OSHA’s findings and will continue to work closely with OSHA in addressing all concerns,” company officials said in the statement.

“Many of OSHA’s findings and corresponding recommendations were consistent with the company’s internal investigation, which was completed and shared with OSHA in December 2012.

“The company’s investigation identified the cause of the explosion as a combination of human error and inconsistencies in standard operating procedures and operator training.”

In OSHA’s report, each serious citation is categorized and includes specific instances of alleged violations.

Officials stated the refinery will enhance its existing corrective actions based on OSHA’s recommendations.

Prior to OSHA issuing its results, the company outlined and began taking corrective actions based on the findings of its internal investigation.

The corrective actions include reviewing and modifying operating procedures for boiler startup operations; modifying the operator training curriculum to support new and existing standard operating procedures; and incorporating leadership expectations into operator training.

“Employee and contractor safety, as well as the safety of the surrounding community, remains the No. 1 priority at the refinery.”