Ferndale refinery fined $324,000

A Ferndale refinery has been fined $324,000 for failing to correct workplace safety violations that the state says puts workers at ‘great risk in case of a fire or explosion.”

Phillips 66 Refinery at 3901 Unick Road was cited for three instances of failing to correct violations that it was previously cited for in September and October of 2014.

These are considered failure to abate serious violations, according to the state Department of Labor & Industries.

The 2014 citations are under appeal to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals. State law requires employers to correct hazards even if the violations are under appeal, unless a stay is granted to allow a delay in making the corrections. The company’s stay request was denied by the board.

Two of the violations, each with a penalty of $108,000, involve the refinery’s firefighting and fire suppression systems.

Phillips did not inspect or follow generally accepted good engineering practices in respect to the firefighting water tank or the buried firefighting water distribution piping, according to the state.

Inspection and maintenance of these systems is required by state regulation and the National Fire Protection Association.

The company also failed to address the potential loss of firefighting water, which puts employees and firefighters at risk if the system failed during a fire or explosion.

The state agency cited Phillips $108,000 for a third failure to abate serious violation for not consulting established, peer-reviewed industry references before writing a policy related to opening chemical piping.

The company’s hazard assessment allowed workers to be potentially exposed to hydrogen sulfide, a poisonous gas, and explosive flammable hydrocarbon vapors.

Phillips 66 Refinery has 15 days to appeal the citation. Penalty money paid is placed in the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping workers and families of those who have died on the job.

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