Silver Eagle refinery fined $1 million over explosion, fire

Published: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 12:32 a.m. MDT

By Joseph M. Dougherty, Deseret News

WOODS CROSS — The Utah Occupational Safety and Health Division has fined Silver Eagle Refining Inc. more than $1 million following two serious incidents in 2009.

The bulk of the fines — $896,000 — stem from what the division called “willful” violations, meaning either the company knowingly committed them or didn’t knowingly commit them but was aware of hazardous conditions and acted in careless disregard of its responsibilities.

The citations also include “serious” violations with fines totaling $102,000. Serious violations are those where an accident could occur that would result in death or serious physical harm. The division also issued $8,400 in fines for “repeat” violations.

In November 2009, a leaking hydrogen pipe at a dewaxing unit Levitra canadian pharmacy at the company’s refinery in Woods Cross exploded, damaging nearby homes.

The explosion caused an outcry, not only because of the damage, but because of a flash fire that

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occurred at the refinery in January 2009. That fire hospitalized four workers and led to evacuations across the city.

For the November explosion, the company’s primary insurer has paid out its coverage limit of $1 million to address the vast majority of the more than 290 claims — mostly for damage to homes — and the rest of the claims are being handled by another underwriter, said Mike Redd, Silver Eagle vice president for refining and operations.

The refinery lost about $800,000 a day after it shut down refining operations between November and Feb. 17, when a refining unit was brought back online, processing about 4,000 barrels of oil per day

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into gasoline, diesel and wax.

Silver Eagle expects to pay part of the fine, though it’s too early to determine how much. A team of experts is reviewing the 153-page citation to identify which parts the company will affirm and which it will refute, said spokeswoman Cindy Gubler.

It’s a process that could take months to work through, Gubler said.

Many of the violations in the citations, which were issued April 28 but only obtained by news outlets recently, begin with the phrase, “The employer did not ensure …” The citations for willful violations state Silver Eagle did not:

 Ensure that certain buildings adequately protect employees.

Enforce the wearing of flame-resistant coveralls.

 Adequately control vehicle access.

 Follow accepted engineering practices relating to pressure vessels, policies and procedures.

 Ensure frequency of inspections and tests of process equipment.

 Correct deficiencies in pressure-relief valves.

Trina Patterson, a neighborhood resident whose home was damaged in the November explosion, said she didn’t think she could be shocked anymore by Silver Eagle.

“I’m finding out about violations prior to the blast that they did not correct,” she said.

Patterson said she’s concerned that no agency seems to have the authority to determine if Silver Eagle is safe or if it should be closed down. The Utah Occupational Safety and Health Division’s mandate is to protect employees, she said.

“The (refinery’s) lack of concern for safety doesn’t stop at the property line, which we learned in November,” Patterson said


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