IR #2005-28
Friday June 17, 2005

Dean Fryer
Renée Bacchini

Cal/OSHA fines Kern Oil and Refining Company $83,185 in fatal explosion

SAN FRANCISCO - The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), within the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), penalized Kern Oil and Refining Company with 11 citations totaling $83,185 following the Jan. 19, 2005 explosion which resulted in one fatality and two injuries. Of the 11 citations one was listed as general, the other 10 were serious.

"As a result of our investigation, inspectors determined that Kern Oil failed to have proper procedures in place and training was not provided for employees working with a dangerous piece of equipment," said Len Welsh, Cal/OSHA acting chief. "If standard practices had been followed this catastrophic event might not have occurred."

The largest of the penalties was $18,000 for a serious accident related violation of Cal/OSHA regulations addressing operating procedures. The investigation revealed that the employer failed to develop and implement temporary operation procedures for removing filter screens and steaming out the crude unit's prefractionator bottoms pump. A temporary operating procedure is required to address an explosion hazard such as water condensing inside the flexible steam line and being introduced into the pump containing hot crude oil.

A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a condition which exists - or from practices, operations or processes at the workplace.

California law provides that a company may appeal Cal/OSHA citations and penalties within 15 working days to the Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board in Sacramento. For more information on Cal/OSHA and DIR, please visit our Web site at