UPDATE 1-Tesoro appeals citations, fine for refinery blast

* Tesoro doesn’t have to correct hazards during appeal

* Explosion probe found 44 violations

* $2.4 million in fines, highest in Washington history
(Adds details, background)

By Erwin Seba

HOUSTON, Oct 22 (BestGrowthStock) – Tesoro Corp (TSO.N: ) filed an
appeal on Friday of 44 violations and $2.4 million in fines
levied against the company for the deadly April explosion at
its refinery in Anacortes, Washington, Washington’s Department
of Labor & Industries said.

The Labor & Industries Department hit Tesoro with the fines
and citations after a six-month investigation of the April 2
explosion, which claimed the lives of seven refinery workers.

During the appeal, Tesoro doesn’t have to correct any
hazards found by the Labor & Industries Department.

“I don’t think anyone is surprised that they would appeal,”
Michael Silverstein, who led the investigation, said in a
statement. “We look forward to hearing how the company intends
to address the violations we found.”

Tesoro has been tight-lipped about the investigation and
the refinery, which restarted earlier this month after being
shut by the blast. Most information about the refinery has come
from the Labor & Industries Department.

A Tesoro representative was not immediately available
Friday.

The department’s investigation found that the explosion
could have been prevented by proper inspection and maintenance
of a heat exchanger, which failed catastrophically while
operating on April 2.

The seven workers were engulfed in a fireball when the heat
exchanger, part of a naphtha hydrotreater, ruptured. The heat
exchanger had not been properly inspected in 12 years,
according to the investigation.

Most U.S. refiners appeal worker safety citations and
fines, frequently obtaining a reduction in the severity and
number of the citations and the amount of the fine.

The fine against Tesoro was the largest in Washington
state’s history.

The Labor & Industries Department investigation found 39
willful violations and five serious violations of workplace
safety and health rules.

A willful violation is defined as a “category of violation
where an employer knowingly violates a rule or is plainly
indifferent to it.” A serious violation is one where there is a
substantial probability of serious injury or death.

Tesoro has not commented on the citations.

The Anacortes blast was the worst refinery disaster since
the 2005 explosion at the BP refinery in Texas City, Texas,
which killed 15 workers and injured 180 others.
(Editing by Gary Hill)

UPDATE 1-Tesoro appeals citations, fine for refinery blast