EL DORADO, Kan. – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Frontier El Dorado Refining Co. of El Dorado for one alleged willful and 18 alleged serious violations of federal safety and health standards.

The agency is proposing penalties totaling $153,500.

OSHA initiated its inspection on June 19 under its Petroleum Refinery Process Safety Management National Emphasis Program. Approximately 400 employees at the refinery were covered by this inspection.

“Our inspection revealed numerous violations of OSHA standards that can involve the unexpected release of toxic, reactive or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals,” said Charles E. Adkins, CIH, OSHA’s regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. “There is a potential for an accidental release any time they are not properly controlled, creating the possibility of a disaster.”

The willful violation addresses hazards associated with a permanently occupied structure that was located within the process equipment of the crude and hydrofluoric acid alkylation units. Frontier El Dorado Refining Co. also failed to address fire, explosion and chemical hazards related to facility siting in the unit’s process hazard analysis (PHA) performed in 2000 and 2005. Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

The serious violations address hazards such as a written plan of action not including how employees/contractors will be consulted; process safety information not being updated following a management of change; valve controls not provided; no identification of the hazards/deviation of a hydrocarbon liquid release to the atmosphere from blowdowns when PHAs were conducted; PHA recommendations not being resolved in a timely manner; written operating procedures not developed for blowdown operations; and emergency operating procedures identifying initiating/triggering conditions or operating limits not being developed.

Other serious violations covered inspections and tests on the process that were not performed; failure to correct deficiencies in equipment; written procedures not established for management of change; management of change incorrectly handled; incomplete emergency procedures; and incomplete labeling of hazardous chemical containers. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Frontier El Dorado Refining Co. has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request and participate in an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to assure the safety and health of America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health.