TPC appealing $500K OSHA fine

Published 12:10 am Saturday, May 30, 2020

PORT NECHES — TPC Group will appeal citations set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for the November explosions and fire at the facility.

“We strongly disagree with the characterization of some of the alleged violations as ‘willful.’ We anticipate future engagement with OSHA regarding these issues, and it would be inappropriate to comment further while our discussions are on-going,” Sara Cronin, spokesperson for TPC Group, said in an email.

Cronin said OSHA initiated its inspection of the event in December and the company cooperated with OSHA’s inspection, adding TPC is committed to safe and reliable operations.

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TPC Group faces $514,692 in fines.

OSHA opened an investigation after a vapor formed at the base of a butadiene finishing tower ignited and caused several explosions and fires, according to the OSHA press release.

OSHA cited TPC for three willful violations for failing to develop and implement procedures for emergency shutdown, and inspect and test process vessel and piping components.

“Employers are required to conduct regular inspections and address potential hazardous conditions associated with chemical processes to prevent catastrophic events from occurring,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt, said. “OSHA has extensive resources available to help employers and workers understand requirements for process safety management.”

OSHA offers compliance assistance resources on safely managing releases of toxic, reactive or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals, the release said.

TPC has 15 days from May 26 to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

TPC is continuing to work on re-establishing systems to expand the company’s ability to serve industry customers throughout facility recovery and site restoration, Cronin said.

These activities include:

  • Restoration of site utilities capabilities, including nitrogen, permanent electrical power and potable water.
  • Evaluation and complete assessments of tanks, piping and equipment in the impacted area also continues to determine equipment preservation and restoration strategies.
  • Restoration of terminal capabilities required to support industrial neighbors and terminal capabilities requiring dock, tank farm and pipeline operations.

Six months have passed since the November explosions and fire at the Port Neches facility that led to evacuations, shelter-in-place, damage to homes and the temporary closing of schools and businesses in that area.