April 2, 2010 at 10:02 pm #2719
Four dead in Tesoro Anacortes refinery fire
Fri Apr 2, 6:18 pm ET
SEATTLE (Reuters) Four Tesoro Corp employees were killed and three critically injured in an early morning blaze at the oil company’s 120,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Anacortes, Washington on Friday, cutting production at the plant to about three-quarters of capacity.
The fire started in the highly flammable naphtha unit, which was undergoing maintenance, at 12:30 a.m. PST (0730 GMT) and was contained by 2 a.m. The company said no offsite damage was caused.
The blaze shut the plant’s hydroprocessing units, the company’s chief financial officer said, adding that other units could be shut after a damage assessment. Tesoro has not yet gained access to the fire’s site to investigate.
The refinery’s crude distillation unit is still running, but the plant is only at 70 percent to 75 percent of capacity, a spokesman said.
Tesoro expects to make up any lost production by purchasing from West Coast inventories or boosting production at its two California refineries, the CFO said.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said this week there were 32.5 million barrels of gasoline in inventory on the West Coast, well above what is needed to supply the region.
Four workers — two women and two men — were airlifted to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center, about 70 miles south of the refinery with severe burns. One of the women later died, and the other three are still in critical condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board said it was sending a team of investigators to probe the fire.
“It’s a major case,” CSB spokesman Daniel Horowitz said.
The Tesoro Anacortes refinery fire is the deadliest accident involving production at a U.S. refinery since the BP Texas City explosion on March 23, 2005, in which 15 workers were killed and 180 others injured.
Four contract workers at the LyondellBasell refinery in Houston were killed when a crane collapsed in July 2008, and two workers were killed in fire on a tank under construction in March of this year at Holly Corp’s Artesia, New Mexico, refinery.
The CSB is already investigating an October fire at Tesoro’s Salt Lake City refinery.
The Anacortes fire could mean expensive legal trouble for Tesoro.
“I can confidently predict there are lawyers already on site or in contact with unions representing Tesoro employees and signing up claimants as we speak,” said Lester Brickman, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York. “The ultimate liability depends on the number of people who had sufficient proximity to the fire to have viable claims.
“Realistically, at this point, there is little Tesoro can do to minimize liability,” Brickman said. “Naphtha is a very volatile substance, and if Tesoro were found to have been significantly negligent, that could magnify its liability.”
The fire started in a part of the plant processing naphtha, a liquid that boosts gasoline octane to make premium grades of gasoline required by some higher-performance cars.
(Reporting by Janet McGurty and Bill Rigby; Additional reporting by Sweta Singh in Bangalore, Erwin Seba in Houston and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Andrew Hay and Jan Paschal)
April 3, 2010 at 11:59 pm #5695
Tesoro Refinery Blast Kills 5, May Be Worst Since 05 (Update3)
By Aaron Clark, Jessica Resnick-Ault and Peter Robison
April 3, 2010 (Bloomberg) — Two of Tesoro Corp.s top executives traveled to Anacortes, Washington, to survey the damage in what may be the second deadliest refinery accident at a U.S. plant. The fire and explosion killed five and injured two.
The Good Friday holiday blast rattled windows more than a mile away and has the most recorded fatalities since 15 workers were killed in a BP Plc incident in 2005 at that companys Texas City, Texas, operations.
Chief Executive Officer Bruce Smith and Chief Operating Officer Everett Lewis have come to Anacortes to focus on those touched by the tragedy, company spokesman Lynn Westfall said in an e-mail. The entire management team will be devoting our time to employees.
Smith steps down as chief executive next month to be replaced by Gregory Goff, a senior vice president at ConocoPhillips.
The Tesoro incident occurred as members of a seven-person crew were cleaning a heat exchanger in a unit handling naphtha, a volatile liquid chemically similar to jet fuel, Westfall told reporters.
All seven suffered burns and the two workers injured remain in critical condition today, according to Valerie Calogero, nursing supervisor at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where both are being treated.
The accident hasnt been cleared for investigations to start, and its too soon to know the cause, Westfall said in an e-mail today.
An investigator from the United Steelworkers, the union that represents the plants workers, and representatives from the state Department of Labor & Industries viewed the site yesterday, from a distance, said Joe Solomon, president of the union local that represents about 200 of the plants workers.
They couldnt get real close, because there were some concerns about exposed asbestos on insulation, Solomon said. The plant started operations in 1955, when the use of asbestos in insulation was more common, he said.
A four-person team from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, an independent U.S. federal agency that investigates industrial chemical accidents, arrived today. In addition, officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Washington state Department of Ecology are to visit the site, the company said.
The accident appears to have the most fatalities of any accident since BP Texas City, Daniel Horowitz, a spokesman for the CSB, said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Besides the 15 killed, another 180 were injured in the BP accident, which occurred when an octane-boosting unit overflowed as it was being restarted. Gasoline vapors spilled into an inadequate vent system and ignited a blast that shattered windows five miles away.
San Antonio-based Tesoro has pared production of fuels like gasoline and diesel at Anacortes to a third of normal levels, or about 20,000 barrels a day, Westfall said. Crude throughput at the refinery, 70 miles north of Seattle, was cut to about 70 percent of normal capacity, or about 80,000 barrels a day.
Tesoro will boost production at some of its six other refineries to help make up for the gap and doesnt expect a significant impact on West Coast supplies of refined products, a company statement said.
Before the accident, the plant was operating at about half its capacity of 120,000 barrels a day, Westfall said.
Record of Violations
Tesoros 58,000 barrel-a-day Salt Lake City, Utah refinery is also under investigation by the CSB after an Oct. 21 fire occurred when flammable liquid overfilled a flare stack and ignited, Horowitz said. The agency said last year it was investigating the incident amid similarities with BPs Texas City accident.
The Anacortes refinery received 17 serious violations last year from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. Fourteen of those violations have been deleted and an $85,700 initial penalty was reduced to $12,250.
Yesterdays fire charred wires, pipes and equipment around the heat exchangers, which are usually about a foot-and-a-half wide, Westfall said. The crew, near the end of a 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift, had just finished cleaning one of six exchangers in the area and was putting it back online when the fire started at 12:30 a.m., Westfall said.
The exchanger work is considered minor maintenance, he said.
The accident is the worst in Tesoros history, according to Westfall. Under the companys ownership, the last fatality at the plant was a 2002 elevator mishap involving a contractor, he said. Yesterday, an electronic sign urging safety at the plant still flashed the date of the last reportable injury: Nov. 25, 2009.
The employees who died were Daniel Aldridge, Matt Bowen, Darrin Hoines, Kathryn Powell and Donna Van Dreumel, the company said. The two workers who remain in critical condition, Lew Janz, 41, the crews supervisor, and Matt Gumbel, 34, have burns over the majority of their bodies.
Lissy Nelson, 20, who can see the refinery complex from the drive-through window of the coffee shop where she works, said the blast shook windows in her house a few miles away.
It sounded like a jet plane taking off, she said.
The plant is adjacent to a separate facility operated by Royal Dutch Shell Plc, which sold the plant to Tesoro in 1998, company officials said.
Prices May Rise
Unplanned and planned outages can increase prices for petroleum products as refiners turn to spot markets to help them meet supply contracts. Operational disruptions can also depress prices for crude oil because less feedstock is needed.
For the units involved in the fire, that could be several weeks before they return, said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC, a Houston-based consulting company. In the Pacific Northwest, prices are liable to rise.
The plant in Anacortes manufactures gasoline, jet fuel and diesel for markets in Washington and Oregon. It receives oil by pipeline from Edmonton, Alberta, and by tanker from Alaska and foreign sources, according to the companys Web site. The plant also processes intermediate feedstocks such as heavy vacuum gas oil that are produced by other Tesoro refineries or purchased in the spot market.
The discount to futures for conventional, 87-octane gasoline widened 0.5 cent to 6 cents in Portland on April 1, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The prompt delivery price gained 0.87 cent a gallon to $2.2637.
Regular gasoline at the pump in Seattle, Bellevue and Everett, Washington, rose 0.3 cent to an average $3.003 a gallon, AAA, the nations biggest motoring organization, said on its Web site.
Tesoros stock rose 49 cents to $14.39 on the New York Stock Exchange April 1. The shares have risen 6.2 percent this year.
Tesoro said it will post updates on the incident to a Web site, http://www.tesoroalert.com
To contact the reporter on this story: Aaron Clark in New York at email@example.comJessica Resnick-Ault in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org. Last Updated: April 3, 2010 15:23 EDT
April 14, 2010 at 11:50 am #5688
Published: Tuesday, April 13, 2010
6th person dies from Anacortes refinery fire
Associated PressSEATTLE A sixth person has died from injuries from an Anacortes oil refinery blast.
A spokesman for the oil refinery company said Lew Janz died at 12:40 a.m. today at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. The nursing supervisor said a seventh victim, Matt Gumbel, remains in serious condition.
Texas-based Tesoro said Monday that it will shut down the refinery this month until investigations are complete and repairs are made.
A fire engulfed the seven workers April 2. It was the deadliest event at a U.S. refinery since 15 people died at a BP facility in Texas in 2005.
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April 24, 2010 at 12:00 pm #5662
Sole Survivor Of Anacortes Refinery Explosion Dies Overnight
Matt Gumble was the only one of seven who survived the April 2 refinery explosion in Anacortes. He died at the hospital overnight.
Q13 FOX News & Associated Press Web Reporter
April 24, 2010
ANACORTES – The only survivor of the Tesoro Refinery explosion in Anacortes died from his injuries early Saturday morning. Matt Gumble, 31, died around 2:45am after spending more than three weeks at Harborview Medical Center. He was one of seven refinery workers who died as a result of the massive explosion on April 2.
Matthew Bowen from Arlington, Daniel Aldridge from Anacortes, and Darrin Hoines from Ferndale all died at the scene of the explosion while four others, including Matt Gumble, were rushed to Harborview Medical Center. Donna Van Dreumel from Oak Harbor, Kathryn Powell from Burlington and Lew Janz from Anacortes all later died of their injuries at the hospital. Matt Gumble was the sole survivor of the explosion.
The final posting on Gumble’s page on the Caring Bridge website includes a post from his family Friday afternoon: “After Matt was brought up to his room they could not get his vital signs stable. He is now back downstairs in emergency exploratory surgery to try and find out what is going on. Please say lots of prayers because he needs them.”
The news of Gumble’s death comes as the Anacortes community is preparing for a memorial service. That service takes place on Sunday, April 25, at Anacortes High School from 2 to 4p.m.
The April 2 blast happened at 12:40 a.m. and was felt for miles away.This refinery experienced another accident in 2006, when three workers were treated for exposure to chemicals after a glowing fire that frightened neighbors. Refinery managers called it a “ground flare” that burns excess gases after the site shuts down.
Following the blast, investigators from the U.S. Chemical Safey Board reported that the workers who died in the oil refinery blast were engulfed in a “firewall.”
There is “indication of a very sudden release of hydrocarbon that ignited very quickly,” said Robert Hall, investigations supervisor for the U.S. Chemical Safety Board. “The individuals didn’t stand a chance; it ignited within a second.”
State and federal investigators have descended on the Tesoro Corp. refinery in Anacortes, about 70 miles north of Seattle, to seek answers in Friday’s blast. The investigation is expected to take months to complete.
It was the deadliest event at a U.S. refinery since 15 people died at a BP facility in Texas in 2005.
In Anacortes, investigators have done an initial tour of the damaged area. The agency will also acquire computer data of the plant’s operations from Tesoro, as well as deconstruct parts of the plant to conduct tests. The agency will also look at work fatigue and other details.
Last week, the company said employees were doing maintenance work on a unit that processes highly flammable liquid derived during the refining process.
The state fined the San Antonio-based company $85,700 last April for 17 serious safety and health violations, defined as those with potential to cause death or serious physical injury. The fine was lowered in a settlement with the company, which required Tesoro to correct hazards and hire a third-party consultant to do a safety audit.
The Anacortes Refinery is located at 10200 W March Point Rd. Tesoro makes gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, heavy fuel oils, liquefied petroleum gas and asphalt at the refinery. It has a crude-oil capacity of 120,000 barrels per day.
May 8, 2010 at 4:58 am #5640
Just hours after a blast at the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, the refinery in San Antonio exploded. The San Antonio refinery fire was started when a nearby 18 wheeler pickup truck blew up. The18 wheeler was filling up with fuel when its blast began a chain response of explosions that lasted for more than 45 minutes. The fire is still burning up and most nearby firefighters are at the scene to try and put out the fire. This specific refinery was sited 13 times in 2007 by OSHA for safety violations, it nearly makes you question what caused the truck to blow up in the first location.
April 5, 2011 at 11:50 am #5163
U.S. board sees inadequate maintenance in Tesoro blast
By Erwin Seba Erwin Seba Mon Apr 4, 6:54 pm ET
HOUSTON (Reuters) The U.S. Chemical Safety Board said Tesoro Corp had not adequately maintained a heat exchanger at its Anacortes, Washington, refinery, that exploded on April 2, 2010, causing the death of seven workers.
Microscopic cracks had formed in the walls of the exchanger in a common phenomenon seen in metal where hydrogen is present under high temperature called high-temperature hydrogen attack, said Board Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso in a video statement issued Friday on the board’s preliminary findings.
“This led to a violent rupture of the exchanger followed by an intense fire as large volumes of naphtha and hydrogen were released,” Moure-Eraso said in the statement.
A Tesoro spokesman said the company did not agree with the assessment about maintenance at the refinery from the board, an independent federal agency charged with determining causes of serious chemical accidents in the United States. The board does not regulate the industry or issue fines or citations.
Tesoro spokesman Mike Marcy said the heat exchanger “was maintained and inspected in accordance with regulations and industry standards.”
In October, the Washington state Department of Labor & Industries fined Tesoro $2.38 million for safety violations in the blast including a failure to maintain and test the heat exchanger at the refinery.
“Our position has been that had Tesoro conducted the appropriate and required testing, they would have found the cracking that led to the rupture,” said Hector Castro, spokesman for Washington Department of Labor & Industries.
Tesoro is appealing the fine before the Washington state Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals.
The United Steelworkers union, which represents hourly workers at the refinery, said the explosion was preventable.
“The industry has known that to prevent such an incident from happening any type of equipment in contact with high temperature hydrogen has to be maintained and inspected more so than in other processes,” USW spokeswoman Lynne Baker said in a statement. “This was a preventable accident.”
In October, Washington state investigators said the heat exchanger, which warmed and cooled naphtha going to and from a hydrotreater, was inspected in 1998 and Tesoro had put off a scheduled inspection of the unit in 2008.
A Tesoro spokesman said the heat exchanger was inspected in 2005, three years ahead of the required 10-year inspection, and was not due for re-inspection until 2015.
Tesoro also faces a criminal probe of the explosion by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and lawsuits by relatives of the seven workers who died due to explosion.
April 5, 2011 at 11:53 am #5162
Tesoro’s deadly blast that killed 7 workers was sourced back to inadequate maintenance by the US Chemical Safety Board.
Along the lines of “Back to the Future” the thought of “Back to Basics” on maintenance & safety should be going through the Oil Industry after a long series of accidents and loss of life. This is industry known for strong safety practice “Everyone going home alive” but cutbacks and lack of options for setting up newer plants is putting deadly focus on relaxed practices that are even more necessary in 60-100 year old plants.
Tesoro Anacortes was in line for a new coker in the 2006-2011 coking cycle but canceled during the extreme spike in project cost led by Overspeculated commodities by Wallstreet and overbid manpower cost as large number coking projects were scheduled for same time period. Both COP & Tesoro canceled Washington refinery coking projects which had doubled in cost to allow completion of other coker projects higher on priority list.
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