Refinery Fined for Chemical Exposure

Friday, January 17, 2014 @ 11:01 AM gHale

Lazarus Energy LLC is facing $43,400 in fines for 11 safety violations for exposing workers to chemical hazards at its Nixon, TX, refinery, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The inspection, which began in July 2013 after a referral from the Environmental Protection Agency, focused on the refinery’s process safety management program for handling flammable liquids in excess of 10,000 pounds.

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Houston-based Lazarus Energy, a subsidiary of Lazarus Energy Holdings and Blue Dolphin, employs 60 workers, including 45 in Nixon.

“Process safety management programs are designed to prevent the catastrophic release of highly hazardous chemicals and must constantly be updated,” said Casey Perkins, OSHA’s area director in Austin. “The refinery, in this case, needs to ensure all equipment, processes and new installations receive the proper evaluation and scrutiny before the production of highly hazardous chemicals.”

Process safety management encompasses a detailed set of requirements and procedures employers must follow to address hazards proactively. The majority of violations relate to potential fire and explosion hazards stemming from the distillation of sweet crude oil into products, such as naphtha, kerosene and diesel fuels.

The 10 serious process safety management violations cited include failing to compile process safety information for piping, vessels and other equipment properly; update and complete a thorough process hazard analysis; resolve previous process hazard analysis action items; update communication operating procedures; compile and implement written procedures for mechanical integrity; and implement a management of change program. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The other-than-serious violation involves failing to initiate and maintain record keeping of the OSHA 300 injury and illness logs for the 2012 calendar year. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.



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