Refinery has Safety History Woes

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 @ 06:05 PM gHale

Safety citations are not a new thing for the Sinclair Oil Corp. refinery in Wyoming where a flash fire this week injured four workers.

Two fires occurred at the oil refinery while a routine safety inspection was occurring last year, said Ken Masters, compliance supervisor with the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

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A spokesman for Salt Lake City-based Sinclair was not immediately available for comment.

The state OSHA is investigating a flash fire that occurred Tuesday at Sinclair’s refinery five miles east of Rawlins, WY.

Three workers sustained injuries and remained hospitalized at North Colorado Medical Center’s Western States Burn Center in Greeley, CO. Their condition improved to fair Friday, according to a medical center official. A fourth worker ended up treated and released at Memorial Hospital of Carbon County in Rawlins.

Sinclair released little information about the fire but has said it also is investigating and its main concern is for the welfare of its injured workers.

The three citations issued in March listed serious violations with paperwork, maintenance, training and fire prevention. The state proposed more than $45,000 in fines, which Sinclair can appeal and negotiate with the state.

Masters said the citations resulted from OSHA inspections of preventive maintenance operations and procedures at the refinery.

“If the management of those maintenance programs is not right, you can have some serious consequences,” he said.

Inspectors consider violations to be serious when “there’s a lack of proper maintenance practices that could result in a fire or it could result in somebody getting seriously injured,” Masters said.

When OSHA inspectors were at the refinery in October and early November, two fires occurred at the facility, he said. It was the first time in his eight years with Wyoming OSHA that fires broke out while inspectors happened to be on site, Masters said.

Several other fires occurred at the refinery last year, but Masters said companies do not have to report incidents in which fewer than three workers end up hospitalized. Companies must report any incident in which a worker dies.

Sinclair has already corrected some of the violations reported in the March citations, and Masters said the company has been cooperative with the state agency.

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