Ohio Refinery Cited for 'Willful' Flaws in Pressure Relief Systems Design

OSHA has proposed $330,000 in fines against Sunoco Inc., an oil refinery in Oregon, Ohio, for alleged willful and serious violations of federal workplace safety standards. The agency initiated a safety inspection at the facility in November 2007 as part of the agency's National Emphasis Program for petroleum refineries and found 27 serious violations and three willful violations during the inspection. The most critical citations issued are for hazards related to the size and design of pressure relief systems, failing to implement a mechanical integrity program for pressure relief devices and fixed equipment, and failing to correct deficiencies associated with vessel and piping wall thicknesses.

"Injuries and fatalities from incidents at refineries are preventable," said Jule Hovi, OSHA's area director in Toledo, Ohio. "OSHA will not tolerate employers who ignore safety hazards that threaten the lives and well-being of their employees."

Sunoco has about 500 employees at its Oregon refinery and 13,500 employees company-wide. OSHA has inspected the site five times since 1974. The agency has inspected Sunoco-owned and operated refinery complexes, petrochemical plants, and bulk terminals 34 times since 1970. The inspections have resulted in more than 100 citations.

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