By Laura Sanicola
(Reuters) -BP violated U.S. process safety rules and did not train workers properly at its Toledo, Ohio refinery, contributing to the death of two workers at the plant last year, U.S. federal investigators said on Thursday.
The two refinery workers died from their burns following an explosion in September 2022. They had been trying to correct rising liquid levels in the fuel gas mix drum, causing a flammable vapor cloud to form and ignite, according to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Investigators said BP Products North America failed to properly train operators to identify the presence of naphtha, a flammable liquid hydrocarbon mixture, during an upset.
The company also failed to implement shutdown procedures for the equipment when asked to do so by the operators responding to the naphtha release, investigators said, adding that BP did not clearly define conditions for emergency shutdown of the crude tower.
A BP spokeswoman said the company is committed to safe and reliable operations at all of its facilities.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed BP Products pay $156,250 in penalties, an amount it said is set by federal statutes, for 11 violations of process safety management procedures, 10 of them serious.
“We have been actively cooperating with OSHA as it investigates the Toledo incident and we will review the citations and continue our discussions with the agency,” said BP spokeswoman Christina Audisho.
BP Products North America is a Houston based subsidiary of BP and operated the 150,800 barrel-per-day Toledo, Ohio, refinery at the time of the explosion. BP reported a record profit of $28 billion for 2022.
Last month Canada-based Cenovus Energy Inc closed on the transaction to purchase BP’s 50% interest in the refinery, assuming 100% operatorship.
BP Products North America has 15 business days to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
(Reporting by Laura Sanicola; Editing by David Gregorio)