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OSHA Fines ExxonMobil $165,000 for Baton Rouge Refinery Explosion That Critically Injured 4 Workers

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ExxonMobil was fined $165,000 by federal safety regulators investigating a Baton Rouge, Louisiana refinery explosion that critically injured four workers last year.

The November 22, 2016 explosion and fire at Exxon’s aging Baton Rouge refinery occurred in the facility’s sulfuric-acid alkylation unit, where a volatile chemical called isobutane is converted to a component of gasoline. Just prior to the blast, a worker had removed the cover from a malfunctioning valve on an isobutane line. According to Exxon, the chemical was released when part of the valve fell out as the operator turned the valve stem. Isobutane was ignited by a welding machine 70 feet away.

Four people, including an ExxonMobil employee, two Turner Industries contractors, and a contractor with Capitol Ultrasonics, were taken to the Baton Rouge General Hospital regional burn unit with critical injuries. One of the injured sustained burns over most of her body.

Nine OSHA Citations Issued in Exxon Refinery Explosion

In May, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued nine citations related to the Exxon Baton Rouge refinery explosion, including eight that were designated “serious”. According to Reuters, the agency faulted ExxonMobil’s safety procedures and training for operators on the alkylation unit, equipment maintenance, and failure to carry out required inspections in a timely manner.

Exxon was penalized $12,675 for each serious citation, as well as $63,000 for failing to carry out external visual and ultrasonic inspections of piping. OSHA hit Exxon with a higher fine for the ninth citation, as the company had previously been cited for failing to conduct the same inspections at its refining and chemical plant complex in Bayton, Texas.

This is not the first time that deficiencies have been found at the Exxon Baton Rouge facility. In 2012, inspectors from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that over 1,000 of the refinery’s underground pipes had not been examined in more than five years.  The EPA also failed Exxon’s emergency and shutdown procedures for failing to provide needed details to operators.

An Exxon spokesperson did tell Reuters that the EPA had withdrawn all but two of its findings. She also said the remaining violations had been resolved.

U.S. Chemical Safety Board Report on Exxon Louisiana Refinery Explosion Pending

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has yet to complete its investigation into the Baton Rouge refinery explosion. It’s report on the incident will likely be released by the end of the year.

In May, the CSB released findings of its investigation into the February 2015 ExxonMobil refinery explosion in Torrance, California. The blast occurred in the facility’s fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit, injuring four contract workers. The Board’s Final Report cited “multiple gaps in the refinery’s process safety management system” that allowed the FCC unit to operate without pre-established safe operating limits and criteria for a shut down.

Contact Our Undefeated Refinery Explosion Lawyers for a Free Consultation at 1-888-603-3636

In the past five years alone, the Undefeated Refinery Explosion Lawyers at Zehl & Associates have recovered Billions, including the #1 largest verdicts and settlements in US History, for workers seriously injured, catastrophically burned, and tragically killed in plant and refinery explosions across Texas, Louisiana, and the United States.

Our Houston Refinery Injury Lawyers have successfully represented thousands of industrial workers in connection with every major plant and refinery explosion in history, including the 2005 BP Texas City refinery explosion, the October 2015 Williams Gibson pipeline explosion, and the 2013 Williams Olefins plaint explosion and fire.

If you or a loved one were injured in a refinery fire or explosion, contact our Undefeated Plant Explosion Attorneys for a free consultation at 1-888-603-3636 or by Clicking Here.

All consultations are free and confidential, and you won’t owe us a dime unless we win your case.