Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

April 22, 2013

Refinery plans to contest citations

Staff Reports
Pauls Valley Democrat

Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — It appears the Wynnewood Refining Company plans to contest the citations and fines related to an explosion last year at its refinery in Wynnewood that resulted in the deaths of two employees.

Published reports indicate the company will contest the multiple citations and a fine of more than $280,000 handed down by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration

It was around three weeks ago when it was announced an investigation’s findings concluded the refinery was being given a handful of citations with some listed as serious.

All of the citations are related to an explosion on Sept. 28, 2012 resulting in the death of 34-year-old Billy Smith of Pauls Valley and critically injured Russell Mann, 45, of Davis, who later died.

The worst of the citations reportedly center around repeated violations on the alleged engineering and hazardous use of a large boiler that exploded.

OSHA’s Oklahoma City area office began its investigation the day after the explosion.

The inspection was expanded to include associated contractors and ongoing maintenance activities during a turnaround operation.

OSHA investigators found violations of the process safety management standard, which requires specific management of hazards associated with processes using dangerous chemicals.

Refinery officials said any of OSHA’s findings and corresponding recommendations were consistent with the company’s internal investigation, which was completed and shared with OSHA last December.

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.

With the company planning to contest the citations, the issue now moves to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

The commission is an independent federal agency that deals with appeals.