Shell Oil Products Fined for Anacortes Refinery Release

L&I assessed one willful violation and the maximum $70,000 fine for knowingly and intentionally not following safe work practices for the control of hazards when shutting down the flare, as well as a serious violation and $7,000 fine for giving workers the incorrect procedure for shutting down the flare.

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries has fined Shell Oil Products $77,000 for workplace health violations after its investigation into an uncontrolled toxic release in February 2015 at the company's Puget Sound Refinery in Anacortes. L&I launched the investigation after learning that the refinery's main flare released contaminants into the environment, which caused numerous odor complaints from residents nearby.

"The investigation found that the company had skipped critical decontamination steps while shutting down the main flare for routine maintenance. Failing to implement safe work practices caused an uncontrolled release that exposed workers to toxic substances including mercaptans, hydrogen sulfide, hydrocarbons and pyrophoric iron," L&I reported, adding that Shell Oil Products was cited in 2013 for skipping critical steps when shutting down the flare, an incident that caused an explosion in which several contractors and Shell employees were hurt.

This time, L&I assessed one willful violation and the maximum $70,000 fine for knowingly and intentionally not following safe work practices for the control of hazards when shutting down the flare, as well as a serious violation and $7,000 fine for giving workers the incorrect procedure for shutting down the flare.

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