Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

October 9, 2012

Nothing new on tragic blast

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — Nothing new has been released on an investigation meant to find out what caused a tragic explosion at the Wynnewood refinery less than two weeks ago.

The boiler explosion at the refinery on Sept. 28 killed one employee and critically injured another.

By way of an email to the PV Democrat one company official confirmed there's nothing to release right now as the investigation by CVR Energy, Inc. is moving forward to learn more about the cause of the deadly accident.

“We do not have a change in status since issuing our news release on (Sept. 30),” stated Angie Dasbach, vice president of Corporate Affairs.

“Our investigation is ongoing and the turnaround is moving forward.”

The explosion resulted in the death of 34-year-old Billy Smith of Pauls Valley and critically injured Russell Mann, 45, of Davis.

It occurred around 6:20 p.m. Sept. 28 as operators were restarting a boiler that had been temporarily shut down as part of the refinery's turnaround process.

Two days later CVR company officials issued a press release that not only expressed condolences to the employees and families affected by the tragedy but also indicated an investigation would be conducted.

“We are conducting a thorough investigation of the incident and cooperating fully with OSHA and the Oklahoma Department of Labor,” said Jack Lipinski, CVR Energy chief executive officer.

“Our focus is to determine how this accident occurred and what steps must be taken to avoid a repeat of this incident. We remain committed to providing a safe working environment for our employees and contractors.”

The explosion at the refinery came during a turnaround, which is a periodic shutdown of the operations allowing for necessary maintenance and upkeep of operating units.

Damage from the explosion was limited to the boiler as process units and other areas were unaffected. The turnaround process resumed the day after the blast, company officials reported.