OSHA fines Williams Olefins for deadly June explosion

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined Williams Olefins $99,000 for six safety violations stemming from an explosion in June at the company’s olefins plant in Geismar, Louisiana, which killed two people and injured 114.

Among the six violations leveled against Williams Olefins was “willful violation.” OSHA says this safety violation was cited because the company didn’t provide clear procedures for workers to ready idle pressure valves for service, and that the company did not follow safety procedures for its equipment, specifically equipment using large amounts of propylene.

The five other violations include: mixing hot water with propylene; failing to properly document workplace training; failing to provide “pressure protection” for a pressure vessel; and failing to “promptly correct deficiencies” discovered by an internal compliance audit.

Williams Olefins plans to restart operations at the plant in 2014. An investigation in the explosion found a rupture in a heat exchanger as the cause of the blast. A plant expansion that should increase production by 50% is still planned for next year.

The $99,000 OSHA fine has a 15-day payment deadline. Williams Olefins can also challenge the findings or request an informal conference in that time.

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