ExxonMobil Reaches Settlement in Beaumont, Texas Refinery Fire that Killed 2 Workers in 2013

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ExxonMobil has settled civil claims with the federal government stemming from a deadly refinery fire that tragically killed two workers in Beaumont, Texas, nearly six years ago.

ExxonMobil Must Pay $616,000 Penalty, Hire Outside Auditor

The agreement resolves allegations that ExxonMobil violated the Clean Air Act, which requires that companies take steps to prevent the accidental release of extremely hazardous substances.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, ExxonMobil will pay a $616,000 civil penalty and purchase a command vehicle for the Beaumont Fire and Rescue Service as part of the settlement. The company must also hire an independent third-party firm to audit certain procedures at the Beaumont refinery.

“When companies shortcut the safety requirements that have been put in place, especially in high risk situations like this, people can die,” U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown of the Eastern District of Texas, said in a statement announcing the agreement.

Contract Workers Severely Burned in Beaumont Refinery Fire

The ExxonMobil refinery fire broke out the morning of April 17, 2013, on a processing unit undergoing maintenance.

Paramedics rushed 12 contractors to a hospital in Galveston. While five of the injured workers were treated and released the same day, seven were hospitalized with severe burns.

Dustin Creekmore, 24, and Chad McDonald, 29, eventually died from burn injuries days later.

ExxonMobil Refinery Fire Ignited by Welding Torch

Contractors were apparently using a welding torch to remove bolts from the top of a heat exchanger when the blaze erupted. A subsequent investigation determined that the torch ignited hydrocarbons escaping from the exchanger.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) eventually fined ExxonMobil and two contract firms more than $67,000 for workplace safety violations in connection with the Beaumont refinery fire.

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