A federal investigation of the June 23 blast that killed two people at Phillips Petroleum Co.'s K-Resin plant in Pasadena, Texas, has found 13 alleged safety and health violations that could cost the company $204,000 in fines. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration claims Phillips departed from its standard operating procedure without evaluating the types of hazards that could take place. OSHA also contends that Phillips failed to correct identified hazards found during a hazard analysis review. These charges were outlined in a Dec. 16 OSHA release.
"Failure to perform these cornerstones of the [Process Safety Management] standard is unacceptable for any employer in the petrochemical and chemical industry," Raymond Skinner, OSHA area director for south Houston, said in the news release.
A joint Phillips/OSHA investigation, concluded in July, revealed that excessive pressure in the K-Resin reactor caused the blast. Two contract workers were killed and four others were injured in the incident, which stopped production of K-Resin — the firm's name for its proprietary styrene butadiene copolymer — for more than two months.
Phillips spokesman Mike Catt said the firm is reviewing the OSHA citations.
"Safety is a top priority for Phillips," Catt said in a prepared statement. "We intend to work with OSHA and with our employees to resolve these issues to continue to make our facility the safest possible."
Phillips has until Jan. 10 to comply with or contest the OSHA citations. Catt said Dec. 21 the company hasn't yet decided what action it will take.
The Dec. 16 report is unrelated to a July release proposing $166,000 in OSHA fines for unsafe conditions at the Pasadena site that were unrelated to the cause of the June 23 explosion.
Bartlesville, Okla.-based Phillips employs 850 in Pasadena, where it produces 2 billion pounds of high density polyethylene as well as polypropylene and K-Resin.