Refinery Starting as Tesoro Faces Criminal Probe

Wednesday, November 17, 2010 @ 03:11 PM gHale

As Tesoro Corp.’s Anacortes, WA, refinery is gearing back up to start production, officials are under investigation by the Environment Protection Agency’s criminal division for the April 2 explosion and fire that killed seven people at the oil company’s plant.
San Antonio, TX-based Tesoro revealed the investigation in a quarterly earnings report filed late last week, according to the Seattle Times. The company’s previous filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission have said the EPA was looking into the accident but didn’t make clear whether it was by the agency’s civil or criminal investigative branch.
Last month, the Washington Department of Labor and Industries fined Tesoro $2.39 million, the largest amount in the agency’s history, after a six-month investigation into state workplace safety and health regulations. It cited the company with 39 willful and five serious violations.
The agency said Tesoro failed to check for cracks that had developed in a nearly 40-year-old heat exchanger that blew apart and killed seven workers at the refinery about 70 miles north of Seattle. The cracks likely developed over the years, it said.
Tesoro has appealed the fine.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board also is investigating the incident, but that report will not be out until early next year.
“We have provided these regulatory bodies with all requested information and are cooperatively keeping them in the loop going forward,” said Tesoro spokesman Mike Marcy.
The refinery should be in operation this week, seven months after a fatal blast.
The company targeted this week to begin start-up procedures, which typically takes weeks.
The blast at the 120,000-barrel-a-day refinery hit the heat exchanger of a naphtha unit but the company shut the entire refinery down days later for repairs and safety concerns amid federal and state investigations.

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