Washington issues record fine in Tesoro explosion

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries this week announced a record $2.38 million fine issued to Tesoro Corp. for violations that led to a deadly explosion at the company's petroleum refinery in Anacortes, WA.

A six-month investigation of the incident uncovered 39 willful and five serious violations related to the April explosion, which killed seven workers.

On April 2, as workers were returning a bank of heat exchangers into service following maintenance, one of the exchangers ruptured, releasing hydrocarbon vapor that almost immediately ignited. Tests after the incident revealed cracks in many of the welds of the almost 40-year-old heat exchangers. Tesoro had never tested the equipment for defects.

Willful violations cited included failure to inspect and repair equipment, failure to test for cracks and other defects, failure to implement the company's corrosion awareness and management program, and failure to properly train workers responsible for starting up the heat exchangers.

Serious violations included failure to ensure fire brigade members were properly trained and failure to ensure emergency communications were coordinated by a single incident commander.

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