OSHA fines Wynnewood Refinery after ‘preventable’ accident

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WYNNEWOOD, Okla. - Not a day goes by without tears. Kari Smith and LeeAnna Mann didn’t know each other before but now are very close following the deaths of their husbands six months ago.

Russell Mann, 45, and Billy Smith, 34, were killed after a boiler exploded at a Wynnewood Refinery in Sept. 2012.

"I've called her all hours of the night and we have cried," Mann said.

Smith said, "In the situation that we are in, you don't find very many people that know what we are going through."

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA) released its findings from an investigation.

OSHA cited the Wynnewood Refining Co. for several violations.

In a press release, officials said the company failed to implement several safety policies and procedures.

OSHA proposed penalties totaling $281,100.

"Failure to implement effectively OSHA's process safety management regulations, which protects employees from potential hazards at high-risk facilities, such as petrochemical refineries, will not be tolerated," David Bates said, OSHA's area director in Oklahoma City. "If OSHA's standards had been followed, it is possible this tragedy could have been avoided."

Mann and Smith have read the OSHA report.

Both are frustrated because they said they believe the accident could have been prevented.

"There is really nothing they can do that'll fix it, if they would have taken their steps before, I wouldn't be here," Smith said.

The Wynnewood Refining Co. is a subsidiary of CVR Energy Inc.

A spokesperson released a statement:

Wynnewood Refining Company has received OSHA’s findings with respect to its investigation of the refinery. OSHA’s investigation covers the Sept. 28, 2012, boiler explosion at the Wynnewood refinery and also includes results from a general inspection of the facility.

OSHA issued six citations; four of which are classified as serious and two are classified as other than serious. Three citations were related to the Wickes boiler incident and three were related to the general investigation. In OSHA’s report, each serious citation is categorized and includes specific instances of alleged violations. The company is currently reviewing OSHA’s findings and will continue to work closely with OSHA in addressing all concerns.

Many of OSHA’s findings and corresponding recommendations were consistent with the company’s internal investigation, which was completed and shared with OSHA in December 2012. The company’s investigation identified the cause of the explosion as a combination of human error and inconsistencies in standard operating procedures and operator training.

Wynnewood Refining Company will enhance its existing corrective actions based on OSHA’s recommendations. Prior to OSHA issuing its results, the company outlined and began taking corrective actions based on the findings of its internal investigation. The corrective actions include reviewing and modifying operating procedures for boiler startup operations; modifying the operator training curriculum to support new and existing standard operating procedures; and incorporating leadership expectations into operator training.

Employee and contractor safety, as well as the safety of the surrounding community, remains the No. 1 priority at the refinery.

OSHA said the company has 15 business days to comply, request a meeting with OSHA, or contest the citations.

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