OSHA Cites TPC Group For Over $500K In Fines Following 2019 Explosion


Port Neches, TX (WorkersCompensation.com) – A fire and explosion that injured three workers at a plant here last November has resulted in fines totaling $514,692. OSHA cited TPC Group LLC for exposing its workers to health hazards and workplace safety.

Authorities said vapor formed at the base of a butadiene finishing tower at the plant causing numerous explosions and fires. According to the Citation and Notification of Penalty that WorkersCompensation.com obtained, the ‘serious violations’ against the company included: 

  • Failing to activate the alarm to initiate evacuation for a butadiene release
  • Failing to develop written operating procedures that provided clear instructions for using the bleed valve of the inlet piping to the S4D4 control valve (FV-3718) to unplug/clear the bottom pipe which was plugged because of polymer including popcorn polymer
  • Failing  to develop written operating procedures that provided clear instructions for throttling the steam turbine pump (6G75) that feeds the N4D7A column due to the control valve (FV-3601) being plugged with polymer including popcorn polymer
  • Failing to provide documentation that ascertained that operators have been trained in the S4D4 or the N4D7 bottom temporary filters free-up procedures
  • Failing to document the inspections and tests performed on S4D4B tower

Among the ‘willful citations’ were: 

  • Failing to implement its Dead Legs in High Purity Butadiene Service procedure to avoid a dead leg on the suction line of the S4G7 pump by flushing and/or by performing the required pump rotation, while the pump was down for maintenance.
  • Failing to develop written operating procedures that provide clear instructions for emergency shutdown including the conditions under which emergency shutdown is required, and the assignment of shutdown responsibility to qualified operators to ensure that emergency shutdown is executed in a safe and timely manner

"Employers are required to conduct regular inspections and address potential hazardous conditions associated with chemical processes to prevent catastrophic events from occurring,” said Loren Sweatt, principal deputy assistant secretary of Labor for OSHA, in a statement. “OSHA has extensive resources available to help employers and workers understand requirements for process safety management.”

The agency offers compliance assistance resources when it comes to safely managing releases of reactive, toxic, or flammable liquids and gases in procedures involving extremely hazardous chemicals, OSHA officials said.

TPC has 15 days from the receipt of the citation and penalties to either comply, contest the findings before the independent OSHA Review Commission, or request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director. WorkersCompensation.com reached out to OSHA, and as of press time did not hear back.

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